Comparative Analysis of Successful Third Parties


Sean Panzer

Date of Award


Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no embargo, no restriction)

Work Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Charles Williams

Second Advisor

Michael Allen


This thesis explores how the Republican Party (US) and the Labour Party (UK) were successful in becoming the rare examples of third parties that displaced a major party to become one of the major parties in a two-party system. In exploring this question the thesis first examines the political science ‘rules of the game’ that make it extremely difficult for third parties, followed by a historical/sociological comparative analysis of case studies of the Republican and Labour Parties to determine if there are similarities in their rise to power. The comparative analysis shows that under extreme conditions, a fundamental sociological and demographic change may occur which supports the addressing of issues that the major parties will be unable to adequately incorporate for fear of upsetting their core base supporters. It is under this context that a third party could ultimately be successful in rising to major party status