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Study Notes

Adversary Politics

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Adversary politics is when there is a deep and broad disagreement between the main political parties. It is the opposite of consensus politics.

The most recent example of this occurring is in the 1980s, when the Conservative and Labour Parties were highly divided over issues such as nuclear weapons, privatisation and workers’ rights.

The UK political system encourages adversary politics in a variety of ways. The election system of First-past-the-post, where a voter chooses just one party, makes there less need for parties to be seen to work together on issues as when they might work in coalition or be searching for second or third preference votes. The House of Commons is set up on adversarial lines, with the government and opposition physically facing each other.

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