By operating outside of a legislature, MDD would avoid PR’s alleged legislative disadvantages while retaining its core advantages. These include the fair representation of political parties of all sizes, a wider variety of parties for voters to choose from, and a political environment focused on the issues (Amy 2000; 2002). MDD would provide these benefits through the initiative process by allocating ballot access to parties fairly, recognizing current minor parties and encouraging the formation of others, and facilitating a marketplace of ideas.
MDD would expand a minor party’s voice in the policy-making process beyond the initiatives it could qualify for the general election ballot. First, a party could introduce a number of its platform positions into the public debate simply by including them on its primary list. Furthermore, although its members could not support either major party’s entire platform – a dilemma they face when voting in plurality elections – a minor party could endorse any major-party initiatives that overlapped with its own platform. Parties may come to feel that endorsing initiatives, and having their endorsements appear on the ballot, is quite similar to being able to propose the initiatives themselves. Finally, minor-party members would have a greater incentive to turn out for both the primary and general elections, increasing their ability to influence major-party candidates who sought their votes.
Some may claim past elections reveal little enthusiasm for minor parties in the United States. There is reason to expect, however, that a greater share of the votes would be cast for minor parties’ lists than their candidates typically receive. Minor-party members often feel pressured to vote for the major-party candidate closest to their policy preferences rather than risk wasting their vote on a minor-party candidate with little chance of winning (Amy 2000; 2002; Reynolds, Reilly, and Ellis 2005). Plurality election results, therefore, do not accurately reflect the strength of a minor party’s support. MDD would allow voters to express their true political preferences without the strategic considerations of plurality elections.
The benefits MDD offers minor parties may encourage new parties to emerge from within the major parties. Just as plurality elections put pressure on voters to support major-party candidates, they also pressure minority interest groups to join a major party’s coalition. If the major party takes their support for granted, however, their issues may not be adequately addressed. With MDD, any sizable faction could attempt to qualify as a political party solely for the purpose of proposing initiatives. These “extralegislative parties” would gain an independent voice in the policy-making process, even while continuing to support a major party’s candidates.