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SPP 387

Author: Robertas Pogorelis
Description: The benefits and costs of forming electoral alliances refer to electoral support related to the party's social base, ideology, identity and image, electoral nominations and gains/losses in terms of seats, and post-electoral politics related to coalitions. Each depends on the particular electoral system. Generally, it is more useful for parties to form alliances in mixed parallel electoral systems, especially those involving closed PR lists compared to 'pure' majoritarian or PR systems. Mixed parallel electoral systems encourage small parties to remain on the political scene despite considerable vote-seat disproportionality. The absence of a decline in the number of parties in the first decade of Lithuania's independence can partly be explained by the strategy of small parties forming electoral alliances with larger ones. Although Lithuanian electoral laws only provide for joint lists in the PR component, in practice the partners in electoral alliances have also coordinated their majoritarian efforts. Since 1996 electoral alliances in Lithuania have been discouraged by a higher PR threshold for alliances, which stimulated the formation of unofficial joint lists in the 2000 elections. Coordination exclusively among small parties has not been successful. Many alliances subsequently led to party mergers. The formation of electoral alliances seems to represent an intermediate state of affairs in the development from a proliferation of parties after the end of communist rule to a more consolidated party system. The mixed parallel electoral system in Lithuania has facilitated the formation of electoral alliances, yet delayed party system consolidation.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland