In Australia, to “run dead” means to have a candidate run, but deliberately not do any campaigning, in order for your candidate to come third and be able to direct preferences reliably to another candidate such that your main opposing party doesn’t win the seat. source I found out while googling that it’s also a term used in horse racing: run dead

Do other countries have preferential voting for single candidates, and if so, do they have running dead as a tactic, and do they call it by the same name?

Note: this is unrelated to dead people remaining on the ballot, and in the case of at least one dead pump, winning.

  • In America the mainstream parties will run "dead" candidates on third party lines to draw votes away from their main opposing party. Is that the same thing? – endolith Feb 10 '19 at 0:18

The only other countries I can find that use preferential voting for national elections are Ireland and Malta (though you will find municipal and regional elections may use this method in a number of countries).

There are two differences between Australia and both of these countries. The first being that elections to their parliaments are based on multi-member constituencies using STV, with between 3 and 5 seats per constituency. It is therefore usually the case that a third-place candidate will be elected to one of these seats anyway.

The scenario that is probably most relevant to your question is for elections for the President of Ireland, which works the most similarly to that of an MP in Australia. This brings me to the second difference: in Ireland, voters are not required to preference all candidates. This means that the kinds of "How to Vote" cards you find in Australia are not used in Ireland, and the influence that minor parties have on their voters' preferences is not as great.

To summarize: While such a strategy may be effective in some electorates in Australia, it is unlikely to be effective enough elsewhere to be used.

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  • 1
    I'm Irish. In relation to the original question it's quite common for political parties to field multiple candidates in a constituency and sometimes to not put much effort in to promoting the less popular ones, the assumption being that the vote surplus from the first candidate will more or less automatically flow to the second candidate without any real effort. So, we have candidate A who is very popular adding candidate B to the bottom of their leaflets asking for voters to give their second preference to them. A gets elected with double the required votes, B gets elected with the surplus. – Eric Nolan Feb 12 '19 at 11:30

Two weeks ago, there was the news that:

former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz [...] announced he is considering a 2020 presidential bid

One of the immediate reactions was:

Julian Castro, whose nascent presidential campaign has been overshadowed, called it Donald Trump’s “best hope of getting reelected." (Source: FoxNews article)

Thus, the appearance of a third-party/independent candidate, who is considered to have no chance to win himself, could alter the outcome of the US presidential elections. While there is little reason to speculate about Schultz's intentions, it shows that this tactic may work elsewhere.

Addendum: There is also the upcoming elections in Ukraine with the alleged strategy of "candidate-stuffing" (i.e., registered candidates with similar names to cause voters to vote for the wrong person).

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