Both Australia and the UK have single-member constituency-based representative electoral systems with a similar ratio of voters per seat. However, while it is common in Australia for parties to form different coalitions within each district, I can't find a single current UK parliament MP elected on behalf of multiple parties.

Of course, Australia has a better voting system but to me, it seems actually much more logical to form coalitions in the UK (FPtP) system. So why isn't it e.g. more common for UK "3rd parties" to make deals with Labour, Tory or regional parties to support candidates who overlap with their agendas?

(For instance, the LibDems could support Labour candidates who like the free market and Conservatives who are socially liberal.)

  • 5
    Well there are plenty of MP elected as "Labour and Cooperative", "Conservative and Unionist", and the Lib-Dems were formed from the "Liberal-Social Democratic Alliance". It's just that the alliance between the Labour and Cooperative parties is now so ingrained that most people don't even know about it.
    – James K
    Commented Jun 4 at 20:39
  • It might help if you mentioned what Australia's ‘better voting system’ is, and why you think ‘it seems actually much more logical to form coalitions in the UK (FPtP) system.’
    – gidds
    Commented Jun 4 at 21:57
  • 2
    @JamesK: "Conservative and Unionist" is the actual name of the party, following a merger in 1912. Commented Jun 5 at 8:21
  • @Steve Yes, that's the point. All three parties are the result of mergers.
    – James K
    Commented Jun 5 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


This question doesn’t even make sense in the context of UK politics. Party discipline is strong, and the agendas of individual MPs rarely matter. You’re asking why a third party wouldn’t support another party’s candidate, and the answer is that it would be pointless. The way you promote your agenda isn’t to get MPs of varying parties elected who support that agenda, it’s to win seats for your own party.

  • 4
    This assumes that each seat exists in a vacuum. In theory an agreement is possible where one party supports another party's candidate in one seat in exchange for that party's support in a different seat. This would be especially important if the seats went to a completely different party otherwise, as it would mean that each party gets an additional seat. Labour and the Lib Dems have floated this idea before to contest Tory held seats: ft.com/content/544fb07c-c5c2-400f-a19a-50c9a3ebc570
    – xyldke
    Commented Jun 5 at 6:08
  • 2
    @xyldke But that’s not the kind of deal that’s being asked about. There are other reasons why deals like you describe here are a bad idea and rarely happen, but they’re not relevant to the question that was asked.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Jun 5 at 6:40
  • Not sure if you got what I meant, so I added an example: "For instance, the LibDems could support Labour candidates who like the free market and Conservatives who are socially liberal."
    – Probably
    Commented Jun 5 at 7:55
  • 3
    @Probably That wouldn’t advance the Lib Dems’ agenda, because as I said, party discipline is strong. A socially liberal Conservative MP will still almost always vote for illiberal legislation introduced by a Conservative government. The aim of parties is to get MPs in Parliament who are subject to their own party’s discipline, not to get MPs who might individually support their agendas in some cases if they weren’t whipped to vote otherwise.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Jun 5 at 8:10
  • It does seem to be a matter of party discipline and a tradition that politicians must be loyal to their party, more than anything. Lots of people have been kicked out of the Labour Party for suggesting tactical voting for other parties, for instance. Despite this, a strong tradition of tactical voting also means that regardless of formal pacts, voters will often switch to a different party which has similar views but a better chance of winning - parties may unofficially tolerate this but will not endorse it officially.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 5 at 10:33

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