Major party

Major party

A major party is a political party that holds substantial influence in a country's politics, standing in contrast to a minor party. It should not be confused with majority party.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Major party: a political party having electoral strength sufficient to permit it to win control of a government usually with comparative regularity and when defeated to constitute the principal opposition to the party in power.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary online[1]

Major parties hold a significant percentage of the vote in elections and claim higher membership than minor parties. Typically, major parties have the most donors, best-organized support networks and excellent funding for elections. Their candidates for political positions are closely watched since they have the highest chance of being elected to office because of the high membership, recognition and donations that these parties are able to generate.

Two major parties can lead to a two-party system. If there is only one major party, then it is a dominant-party system. In a multi-party system, a major party is one that occasionally controls the presidency or premiership and is the most influential party in a coalition government.

List of major parties

Country Left-wing major party Right-wing major party Other major party Notes
Australia Australian Labor Party Liberal Party of Australia Federally (and in New South Wales) the Liberal Party of Australia is in coalition with the Nationals.
France Socialist Party (PS) Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)
India Indian National Congress Bharatiya Janata Party
Italy Democratic Party (PD) The People of Freedom (PDL)
United Kingdom Labour Party Conservative Party Liberal Democrats
United States Democratic Party Republican Party Since the American Civil War (1861–1865), only four presidential candidates who were not Republicans or Democrats have received over 10% of the popular vote, and one of these was a former major-party president.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary online
  2. ^ Third-Party Candidates Can Influence U.S. Presidential Elections,, 20 August 2007.
    U.S. Third-Party Presidential Candidates, 1832-1996
    Third-party candidates who received more than the historical average of 5.6 percent of the popular vote are listed below.
    Year Party Candidate Popular Vote % Electoral Votes Outcome in Next Election
    1996 Reform H. Ross Perot 8.4 0 Did not run; endorsed Republican candidate George W. Bush
    1992 Independent H. Ross Perot 18.9 0 Ran as Reform Party candidate
    1980 Independent John B. Anderson 6.6 0 Did not run
    1968 American Independent George C. Wallace 13.5 46 Won 1.4 percent of the popular vote
    1924 Progressive Robert M. La Follette 16.6 13 Returned to Republican Party
    1912 Progressive ("Bull Moose") Theodore Roosevelt 27.4 88 Returned to Republican Party
    1912 Socialist Eugene V. Debs 6 0 Won 3.2 percent of the popular vote
    1892 Populist James B. Weaver 8.5 22 Endorsed Democratic candidate
    1860 Constitutional Union John Bell 12.6 39 Party dissolved
    1860 Southern Democrats John C. Breckinridge 18.1 72 Party dissolved
    1856 American ("Know-Nothing") Millard Fillmore 21.5 8 Party dissolved
    1848 Free Soil Martin Van Buren 10.1 0 Won 4.9 percent of the vote
    1832 Anti-Masonic William Wirt 7.7 7 Endorsed Whig candidate
    Percentages in bold are those over 10% in elections since 1860.

    (Information derived from the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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Look at other dictionaries:

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