Because a two-party system offers the minimum choice to voters, there are always grounds for questioning the extent to which the Conservative and Labour parties offer enough choice to the electorate. By European standards, the range of choice is far less than that in the Netherlands, where 14 parties won seats at the 1972 general election, or Denmark, where eight parties won seats in 1973. The greater profusion of parties in Continental Europe is a result of the political salience of religious, linguistic, and urban-rural differences on a scale without counterpart in England. Few Englishmen would think it a welcome change if an increase in electoral choice meant the success of Communist, Fascist and Monarchist candidates, as in contemporary Italy. Yet the Gilbertian epigraph is a reminder that even in a two-party situation, boys and girls raised with one pair of choices may have to change their political label if one of the parties breaks up.
KeywordsElectoral System Party System Proportional Representation Coalition Government Party Leader
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