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Electoral Reform and Party Adaptation: The Introduction of the Single Transferable Vote in Scotland

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alistair Clark


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The 2007 Scottish Local Government Elections saw the first large scale use of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) in a mainland election in Britain. This presented a range of challenges for Scotland's political parties, more familiar with campaigning under first-past-the-post or the Scottish parliament's semi-proportional Additional Member System (AMS). Most crucially, STV meant the parties had to come to terms with multi-member wards and the transferral of votes between parties. Following a short discussion of the results of the STV elections, this article assesses evidence on how the parties adapted to the new electoral system, focussing particularly on candidate and campaign strategies. The article argues that Scotland's parties showed some, but limited, signs of adapting to new electoral conditions. Rather than strategic adjustment, an element of ‘hoping for the best’ was evident in all parties.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clark A, Bennie L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Political Quarterly

Year: 2008

Volume: 79

Issue: 2

Pages: 241-251

ISSN (print): 0032-3179

ISSN (electronic): 1467-923X

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-923X.2008.00925.x


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