This problem is compounded where elections are unfair by design, like the UK’s first-past-the-post system. At the 2019 general election, the Conservatives took 56% of the seats on 43.6% of the vote. They gained one seat for every 38,264 votes cast. Labour needed 50,837 votes to win a seat, the Liberal Democrats 336,038 and the Greens 866,435. In 229 out of 650 constituencies, votes against the successful candidates outweighed the votes in favour.
OK, so let’s all combine to vote out the Tories!
Progressive candidates, regardless of their party line on electoral pacts, have a powerful incentive to attend the meetings, as a no-show would greatly reduce their chances of success, both in the primary and in the general election. When all eight meetings have taken place, the total vote is released. The campaign will then urge progressives to unite behind the leading candidate: not only voting for them, but leafletting and canvassing for them. Local people, in other words, will then be able to trust other people’s tactical votes.
There’s no obligation on the losing candidates to stand down at the election. But their parties will be disinclined to put much effort into their campaigns, knowing that the constituency is swinging behind another.
And then it all turns to shit of course:
It seems to me that this approach could, in the future, perhaps, also provide openings for independents peeling away from Labour.
But now we’ve got not Tory, not Labour, but some other. Which means we’re back with multiple candidates.
Which is how we got here in the first place of cuorse – there are many sets of ideas about how the country should be run. Which is why there are many candidates.