An electoral alliance may take the form of a bipartisan electoral agreement, electoral agreement, electoral coalition or electoral bloc. It is an association of political parties or individuals which exists solely to stand in elections. Each of the parties within the alliance will have its own policies, but will choose temporarily to put aside differences in favour of common goals and ideology. On occasion, an electoral alliance may be formed by parties with very different policy goals, who agree to pool resources in order to stop a particular candidate or party from gaining power.
Unlike a coalition formed after an election, the partners in an electoral alliance will usually not run candidates against each other, and will encourage their supporters to vote for candidates from the other members of the alliance. In some agreements where a larger party enjoys a higher degree of success at the polls, the smaller party will field candidates under the banner of the larger party, with the elected members of the smaller party sitting together with the elected members of the larger party in the cabinet or legislature. They will usually, but not inevitably, aim to continue co-operation after the election, for example by campaigning together on issues on which they have a common viewpoint.
By offering to endorse or nominate a major party's candidate, minor parties can influence the candidate's platform.
Lijstverbinding ("list connection") is the Dutch for an electoral alliance between two parties.
In a system of proportional representation not all seats are immediately divided, some seats remain undivided remainder seats. In the Netherlands these are allocated by the D'Hondt method. This method strongly favours larger parties (often smaller parties get no remainder seats, whereas the three largest parties get two each). But if smaller parties form an alliance their votes are added up for the distribution of seats, so this increases their chances of getting one. With a lijstverbinding or kartel two parties can pool their votes in order to gain more remainders seats.
Often these two parties are ideologically related, in the 2003 general elections for example the Socialist Party and GreenLeft formed a lijstverbinding. In the 2004 European elections the social-democratic PvdA and GreenLeft formed a lijstverbinding. The Orthodox Protestant Reformed Political Party and ChristianUnion also usually form a lijstverbinding.
- "Political Combinations in Elections". Harvard Law Review, 45 (5): 906–912. March 1932. doi:10.2307/1332029. JSTOR 1332029. ISSN 0017-811X.
- Anti-Capitalist Alliance in New Zealand
- Coligação Democrática Unitária (Unitarian Democratic Coalition) in Portugal
- Labour Co-operative in the United Kingdom
- Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force in the United Kingdom
- Socialist Alliance and Respect coalition in England
- Tripartite Alliance (including the ANC and SACP) in South Africa
- Mesa de la Unidad Democrática en Venezuela