In many western liberal democracies, traditional parties are losing ground. France is a great example of this phenomenon: the Socialist Party and Les Républicains, which once reigned supreme, have been marginalized in recent years.
The loss of confidence in the politicians of the major parties does not spare the United States. Thus, according to a Gallup poll, only 20% of Americans said they approved of the work of the American Congress last March. However, there are almost only Democrats and Republicans (despite the presence of a few independents).
“The electoral system—first-past-the-post—barriers to becoming a candidate, and the Electoral College force voters into the fold of two parties,” says Daniel Marien, who teaches American politics at the University of Central Florida.
In terms of obstacles, the expert explains that “every state requires candidates who want to be on the electoral list to file petitions signed by citizens. The provisions vary from state to state, but the rules are generally difficult for third parties.”
“Often, big parties don’t need petitions to get a spot on the ballot,” said Antoine Yoshinaka, who teaches political science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He, too, is convinced that many “institutional factors” favor Republicans and Democrats.
But he points out that the nature of parties in the United States also contributes to the phenomenon.
“It is often said that these are two coalitions rather than formations with a very rigid party line. So they welcome factions that in another system would form third parties,” he says, citing as examples the patterns you usually see in Europe.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of talk this year about the possible emergence of a third way to the presidency, which could satisfy voters who do not want to vote for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump.
But let’s not put the cart before the horse: this race is not set in stone.
Among the Democrats, the leadership of Joe Biden is not unanimous. Although his most serious rival, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is currently not very threatening.
Among Republicans, Donald Trump remains very popular, but some still think that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could confuse the issue.
Among those who have raised the possibility recently is Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan – who once served as a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan.
“If it seems clear that America is stuck once again with a Trump-Biden race, I think the electorate might get riled up. I don’t feel like people are going to accept this,” she wrote.
It’s not just a view of the mind. Efforts are currently underway to put in place the necessary infrastructure for such a bid.
It wouldn’t be unprecedented. In recent history, two politicians have garnered enough votes to spoil the party: Ralph Nader in 2000 and Ross Perot in 1992.
“There is more uncertainty this year than in normal times,” admits Antoine Yoshinaka.
“But is there actually going to be a third party that’s going to make a breakthrough? It is really necessary that the political offer of the two parties, in terms of the issues, does not satisfy the demand. It is exceedingly difficult. »