In this scenario there is an organisation (UK based) with certain governing powers/responsibilities for a particular geographical area. There are a number of elected representatives responsible for decision making within that organisation.

Representatives are elected in a first past the post system, with one representative elected from each sub-region within the area. A number of the representatives are members of political parties and one of those parties currently holds a majority of seats. There are 4 opposition parties.

In this "hypothetical" scenario, when it comes to election time the opposition parties agree between each other that for any seat currently held by the ruling party, only one of the opposition parties will put forward a candidate against them. The aim of this is to reduce the effect of split votes and maximizing their chance of removing the incumbent representative. The opposition parties agree beforehand which of the parties will put forward a candidate for each of the seats (the parties will also have some data indicating the areas where they have the strongest support).

Are there any reported cases of this happening in the past and what was the public response in those cases? Did the public consider it to be undemocratic, corrupt or a legitimate political tactic?

  • What is/isn't democratic in this context is going to mostly be opinion/spin.
    – user1530
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 18:30
  • This happened in Argentina with Cambiemos group. Nobody considers it undemocratic here... Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 21:35
  • The actual question itself isn't "Is this or is this not" (opinion), but "did this happen and how did the public react" (fact). I've edited the title to make it less opinion based.
    – Bobson
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 23:18

2 Answers 2


I will present you another scenario. There is a country where the majority of the opponents colluded in a kind of bet.

In that country, there are two election instances: The first one is the intra-party elecion instance. What you vote makes sense only among your party candidates (pretty much like choosing between Carson, Cruz, and Trump), however the overall percentage is published and gives a preview of the actual elections. This percentage becomes public because you may feel interest on members of party A while I may feel interest on members of party B, and will likely tell which party will I vote in the future.

Opponents allied and performed a kind of bet: The party with the biggest percentage in this first instance will put the presidential candidate and many chairs in both chambers (say this country has two in the Congress). Others would distribute remaining chairs later.

One of the parties won, and put the presidential candidate. He is the actual president now.

I am talking about Argentina, the Cambiemos alliance, Propuesta Republicana (PRO) as the winning party, and Mauricio Macri the candidate and actual president.

The reason of the collusion is because they were really tired of Frente para la Victoria party (Nestor Kirchner, Cristina Kirchner, Daniel Scioli) and Nuevo Encuentro (allied party which got many chairs and positions by FpV party).

In the actual instance, there was no doubt that Eugenia Vidal would be their candidate (PRO) for the Buenos Aires (province) governance, while Alfonso Prat Gay (Coalicion Civica party) being the Economy Minister.

So yes, this happened, and nobody complained. Perhaps you have a different concept of what you could call undemocratic, but for the Supreme Court in Argentina, it was a legit democratic move.

There's a difference here, though. Frente Renovador (lead be Sergio Massa, which was a former FpV member) party was a strong opponent which could almost stand by itself and did not join Cambiemos, despite several alliance offers in both directions. But if we don't consider Frente Renovador. Anyway, Cambiemos and Frente Renovador have pretty good relationships right now.


I think the question is meaningless because there is no standard of how "wide" or "narrow" the base of a political party must be, a practical guide to tell us (in the ideological dimension) what a "political party" is and what a "coalition" is. Consider:

  • A political party is a group of people with a set of shared goals that present a list of candidates and a electoral program to try to win a set of given elected positions. They present those to the public, in the hope that the public approves and them and gives them their votes.

  • A coalition of political parties is a group of people with a set of shared goals that present a list of candidates and a electoral program to try to win a set of given elected positions. They present those to the public, in the hope that the public approves and them and gives them their votes.

In both cases the political party makes a proposal, and it is valored by the voters at election day. The fact that the individual political parties exist as separate organizations is not relevant to the democratic aspect of it. Sometimes the supporters of the parties outside the agreement decry it as "undemocratic", but you can see that democracy was not affected at all. In the end, the habitual reaction to it is for the other parties that are similar enough to make another common effort.

In fact, in many single parties we see a similar phenomena of aggrupation of different interests (see for examples, references to "left wing" and "right wing" inside a same party, or the internal election systems inside the parties).

And for instances of it happenning historically, there are lots of it. One particular famous example where the Popular Fronts promoved to unite European leftist forces in the 30s, specially against the rise of fascism. In Spain, all of the "classical"1 main parties are the result of the union of several different existing parties.

Additionally, the evidence of the need to avoid splitting votes is an internal factor in helping that existing parties and alliances do not break due to personal or poltical tensions; although, as there is no defined standard as how "homogeneous" a political party may be, that is hard to quantify.

1 There are currently two new parties in the political scene, and one of them has already presented joint candidates with other party.

  • "Sometimes the supporters of the parties outside the agreement decry it as "undemocratic"" - what about the electorate who may feel cheated that they were not able to vote for their preferred candidate/party due to the artificial lack of choice in candidates? The opposition parties range from extreme left wing to right wing so will mean some people not having the choice of a candidate who will represent their views. Would you say that is undemocratic for those people?
    – rdans
    Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 0:36
  • @rdans coallition or not, there is never a garantee (neither a right) that each individual voter has to have a candidature that they like enough to vote. Coallition or not, some people choses not to vote or to cast a blank an invalid vote. And of course, if some part of the electorate does not feel represented and want to solve that situation, they should try to present themselves to the election (Did I comment that we have two parties recently created in Spain?)
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 7:57

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