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Minority rule in the United Kingdom

In a representative democracy with universal suffrage, minority rule occurs when a government is formed by a party (or group of parties) that received fewer than half of the votes cast in the preceding election.

The United Kingdom is prone to minority rule due to its first-past-the-post electoral system. The increasing vote share of minor parties has exacerbated the problem, with the 2005 Labour government receiving little more than a third of the votes cast. Since the Second World War, only the 2010 Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government has exceeded half of the votes cast.

The table below show the vote share of the governing party (or parties) after each general election since the Second World War, with the black line indicating the 50% mark. Note that there were two general elections in 1974, in February and October. The data comes from the House Of Commons Library document UK Election Statistics: 1918-2021: A century of elections.

ElectionGovernment vote share
201943.6%
201742.3%
201536.8%
201059.1%
200535.2%
200140.7%
199743.2%
199241.9%
198742.3%
198342.4%
197943.9%
1974 (2)39.3%
1974 (1)37.2%
197046.4%
196648.0%
196444.1%
195949.4%
195549.7%
195148.0%
195046.1%
194548.0%