Instead, the opposite has occurred, with these multi-party marginals becoming rare. As the party system fragments it has also solidified into a collection of 2-party systems, with the overwhelming majority of seats falling into one of these categories:
- A safe seat for one party, with the identity of the runner-up being only of interest to political anoraks like myself
- A marginal seat for one party, with another party being the sole clear challenger
There are now only 4 seats with less than 10% of the vote between the first and third parties:
|Constituency||Gap between 1st and 3rd||Winner||Runner-up||3rd|
|Thurrock||1.97%||Conservative||Labour||UK Independence Party|
|Belfast South||7.32%||Social Democratic & Labour Party||Democratic Unionist Party||Alliance Party of Northern Ireland|
|Upper Bann||8.13%||Democratic Unionist Party||Ulster Unionist Party||Sinn Féin|
|Ynys Môn||9.96%||Labour||Plaid Cymru||Conservative|
The closest gap between first and fourth place is 10.68% in Belfast South, with Sinn Féin in fourth place. In Great Britain the closest is 14.11% between the Liberal Democrats and UKIP in Southport.
With 15.44% between the SDLP and the Ulster Unionist Party, Belfast South has the smallest gap between the first and fifth candidates.