Zugzwang: The Liberal Democrats and Others

  • Philip Cowley
  • Dennis Kavanagh


The share of the popular vote garnered by the two major parties in a post-war British general election first fell below 80% in 1970. It then dropped below 70% in 2005 and reached a record low of 65% in 2010.1 Throughout the 2010 Parliament, with the rise of UKIP, the Greens and the SNP, there was talk about how the party system was continuing to fragment, although there was no evidence that the two-party share was in further decline. What was happening, and dramatically so, was that the composition of the ‘others’ — as they used to be referred to rather dismissively — was changing. These parties matter in their own right, as the democratic choices of millions of voters, but in a close election there was also much discussion of how they would affect the outcome of the election, either by taking votes from other parties or as a result of their involvement in post-election deals. The rise of the SNP is considered separately in Chapter 5. Below we discuss the significant other parties, both those on the rise as well as those for whom 2010–15 turned out to be electoral hard times.


Election Campaign Local Election Poll Rating European Election Liberal Democrat 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Craig Johnson, ‘The Importance of Local Parties and Incumbency to the Electoral Prospects of the Liberal Democrats’, Politics, 34 (2014): 201–12.Google Scholar
  2. Dennis Kavanagh and Philip Cowley, The British General Election of 2010. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp. 108–10.Google Scholar
  3. Neil Carter, ‘The Greens in the UK General Election of 7 May 2015’, Environmental Politics, 24(6) (2015): 1055–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Roger Scully, ‘More Scottish than Welsh? Understanding the 2011 Devolved Elections in Scotland and Wales’, Regional & Federal Studies, 23(5) (2013): 591–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Laura McAllister and Michael Cole, ‘The 2011 Welsh General Election: An Analysis of the Latest Staging Post in the Maturing of Welsh Politics’, Parliamentary Affairs, 67(1) (2014): 172–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Richard Wyn Jones and Roger Scully, Wales Says Yes: Devolution and the 2011 Welsh Referendum. University of Wales Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  7. Matthew Goodwin, ‘Forever a False Dawn? Explaining the Electoral Collapse of the British National Party (BNP)’, Parliamentary Affairs, 67(4) (2014): 887–906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Neil Matthews, ‘The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2011’, Irish Political Studies, 27(2) (2012): 341–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Cowley
    • 1
  • Dennis Kavanagh
    • 2
  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonUK
  2. 2.University of LiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations