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An electoral alliance is an association of political parties or individuals that exists solely to stand in elections. Other similar terms are bipartisan electoral agreement, electoral pact electoral agreement, electoral coalition or electoral bloc.

Each of the parties within the alliance has its own policies but chooses temporarily to put aside differences in favour of common goals and ideology in order to pool their voters' support and get elected. On occasion, an electoral alliance may be formed by parties with very different policy goals, which agree to pool resources in order to stop a particular candidate or party from gaining power.

Unlike a coalition formed after an election, the partners in an electoral alliance usually do not run candidates against one another but encourage their supporters to vote for candidates from the other members of the alliance. In some agreements with a larger party enjoying a higher degree of success at the polls, the smaller party fields candidates under the banner of the larger party, with the elected members of the smaller party sitting with the elected members of the larger party in the cabinet or legislature. They usually aim to continue co-operation after the election, for example by campaigning together on issues on which they have common views.

By offering to endorse or nominate a major party's candidate, minor parties may be in position to influence the candidate's platform.

By country

The Red-Green Alliance was formed as an electoral alliance between the Communist Party (DKP), the Left Socialists (VS), and the Socialist Workers Party (SAP) in 1989. It reformed itself as a unified party in 1991, but the participating parties continue on their own in some ways (for example by having their own separate party newspapers).

The Syriza Party started out as an electoral alliance but then united into a single party.

The possibility of combination of party lists for elections existed in the Dutch electoral system between 1973 and June 2017 as a weak form of electoral alliance between two parties. It was abolished in June 2017 after being earlier abandoned for Senate elections.[1]

In a system of proportional representation not all seats are immediately divided, some seats remain undivided remainder seats. In the Netherlands these are allocated by the D'Hondt method. This method strongly favours larger parties (often smaller parties get no remainder seats, whereas the three largest parties get two each). But if smaller parties form an alliance their votes are added up for the distribution of seats, so this increases their chances of getting one. With a lijstverbinding or kartel two parties can pool their votes in order to gain more remainders seats.

Often these two parties are ideologically related, in the 2003 general elections for example the Socialist Party and GreenLeft formed a lijstverbinding. In the 2004 European elections the social-democratic PvdA and GreenLeft formed a lijstverbinding. The Orthodox Protestant Reformed Political Party and Christian Union also usually form a lijstverbinding.

In a common list two or more political parties share a list and often have a common political programme for the election. The participating political parties are identifiable for the voters because the names of these parties are mentioned on the voting paper. It is similar to electoral fusion.

An electoral alliance survives to this day between the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party, which fields Labour Co-operative candidates in general elections in several constituencies, and in some local council elections. They have jointly contested elections since the 1927 Cheltenham Agreement. As of the 2017 general election, there are 38 Labour Co-operative MPs, the third-largest political grouping in the Commons (after the Conservative Party and Labour).

The SDP–Liberal Alliance began in 1981, shortly after the Limehouse Declaration. The Alliance contested the 1983 and 1987 elections, and became defunct in 1988, when the parties merged into the Liberal Democrats. In the first few years of the alliance, Liberals and Social Democrats were very confident it would be a success, David Steel even suggesting that Alliance could form the next government.[2] Later on, however, the alliance faced difficulty with political and personal clashes between Steel and David Owen, as well as presentation issues (such as contradiction on policy). When the parties merged in 1988, Owen did not join the Liberal Democrats.

A socialist coalition comprising RMT, Socialist Party, Solidarity, &c. candidates, the TUSC formed to contest the 2010 general election. The alliance has been consistently electorally unsuccessful, also contesting the 2015 general election, but endorsing Labour in 2017.

Other examples

See also

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