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A safe seat is a seat in a legislative body
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 (e.g., Congress, Parliament, City Council) which is regarded as fully secured, either by a certain political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

, the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

 representative personally or a combination of both. In such seats, there is very little chance of a seat changing hands because of the political leanings of the electorate in the constituency concerned and/or the popularity of the incumbent member. The opposite (i.e. more competitive) type of seat is a marginal seat
Marginal seat
A marginal seat, or swing seat, is a constituency held with a particularly small majority in a legislative election, generally conducted under a single-winner voting system. In Canada they may be known as target ridings. The opposite is a safe seat....

.

In countries with parliamentary government,parties often try to ensure that their most talented politicians are selected to contest these seats. This is done in part to ensure that these politicians can stay in parliament, regardless of the specific election result, and that they can concentrate on ministerial
Minister (government)
A minister is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. Senior ministers are members of the cabinet....

 roles without needing to spend too much effort on managing electorate-specific issues.

Unsurprisingly, candidate selection for a party's safe seats is usually keenly contested, although many parties restrict or forbid challenges to the nomination of sitting members. Other parties will often be compelled to nominate much less well-known individuals (such as backroom workers or youth activists in the party), who will sometimes do little more than serve as paper candidate
Paper candidate
In a representative democracy, the term paper candidate is often given to a candidate who stands for a political party in an electoral division where the party in question enjoys only low levels of support...

s who do little or no campaigning, or will be trying to use the contest to gain experience so that they become more likely to be selected for a more winnable seat.

Safe seats can become marginal seats (and vice versa) gradually as voter allegiances shift over time. However, this shift can happen more rapidly for a variety of reasons. The retirement or death of a popular sitting member may make a seat more competitive, as the accrued personal vote of a long-serving parliamentarian sometimes will have resisted countervailing demographic trends which come back in force upon retirement. An independent or third party candidate with an ideology close to that of the incumbent party may also be able to make a more credible challenge than more established parties. Also, traditionally safe seats can be more vulnerable in by-election
By-election
A by-election is an election held to fill a political office that has become vacant between regularly scheduled elections....

s, especially for governing parties.

The fact that voters in safe seats usually have little chance to affect election outcomes - and thus, those voters' concerns can theoretically be ignored by political parties with no effect on election outcome - is often regarded as undemocratic, and is a major argument of supporters of various multi-member proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 election methods. These supporters also argue that safe seats receive far less political funding than marginal seats, as the parties will attempt to "buy" marginal seats with funding (a process known in America and Australia as "Pork Barrelling
Pork barrel
Pork barrel is a derogatory term referring to appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative's district...

") while ignoring safe seats which can reliably fall to the same party every time.

Australia


In Australia's federal system, most rural seats are safe seats for either the National Party
National Party of Australia
The National Party of Australia is an Australian political party.Traditionally representing graziers, farmers and rural voters generally, it began as the The Country Party, but adopted the name The National Country Party in 1975, changed to The National Party of Australia in 1982. The party is...

 or Liberal Party
Liberal Party of Australia
The Liberal Party of Australia is an Australian political party.Founded a year after the 1943 federal election to replace the United Australia Party, the centre-right Liberal Party typically competes with the centre-left Australian Labor Party for political office...

. Conversely, inner-city and poorer suburban seats are typically safe Labor, and a few of the most affluent inner-middle urban seats are held by the Liberal Party. Marginals are generally concentrated in the middle-class outer-suburban areas of Australia's larger state capitals, which therefore decide most Australian federal elections.

At the 2007 federal election, the governing Australian Labor Party
Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party is an Australian political party. It has been the governing party of the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Julia Gillard is the party's federal parliamentary leader and Prime Minister of Australia...

's safest seat was the seat of Division of Batman
Division of Batman
The Division of Batman is an Australian Electoral Division in Victoria. The division was created in 1906 , and is named after John Batman, one of the founders of the city of Melbourne. When it was created it covered the inner suburbs of Carlton and Fitzroy, but successive boundary changes have...

 in Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

's inner-northern suburbs, with a two-party-preferred margin of 26.0%. The safest seat for the opposition Liberal Party
Liberal Party of Australia
The Liberal Party of Australia is an Australian political party.Founded a year after the 1943 federal election to replace the United Australia Party, the centre-right Liberal Party typically competes with the centre-left Australian Labor Party for political office...

 was the rural Victorian
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

 electorate of Murray
Division of Murray
The Division of Murray is an Australian Electoral Division in the state of Victoria. It is located in the north of the state, adjoining the Murray River, which forms Victoria's border with New South Wales...

, with a margin of 18.3%. The Liberal Party's junior coalition partner, the National Party
National Party of Australia
The National Party of Australia is an Australian political party.Traditionally representing graziers, farmers and rural voters generally, it began as the The Country Party, but adopted the name The National Country Party in 1975, changed to The National Party of Australia in 1982. The party is...

's safest seat was the division of Mallee
Division of Mallee
The Division of Mallee is an Australian Electoral Division in the state of Victoria. It is located in the far north-west of the state, adjoining the border with South Australia in the west, and the Murray River in the north. At , it is the largest Division in Victoria...

, also located in rural Victoria, with a margin of 21.3%.

Canada


Examples include:
  • Beauséjour
    Beauséjour (electoral district)
    Beauséjour riding is a federal electoral district in eastern New Brunswick, Canada, which has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1988...

    , a riding in southeastern New Brunswick
    New Brunswick
    New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

    , which is considered a safe seat for the Liberal Party
    Liberal Party of Canada
    The Liberal Party of Canada , colloquially known as the Grits, is the oldest federally registered party in Canada. In the conventional political spectrum, the party sits between the centre and the centre-left. Historically the Liberal Party has positioned itself to the left of the Conservative...

    . In 1990, when Jean Chrétien
    Jean Chrétien
    Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien , known commonly as Jean Chrétien is a former Canadian politician who was the 20th Prime Minister of Canada. He served in the position for over ten years, from November 4, 1993 to December 12, 2003....

     needed an open seat to become Leader of the Opposition, he chose Beauséjour in a by-election and won.
  • Central Nova
    Central Nova
    Central Nova is a federal electoral district in Nova Scotia, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1968 to 1997 and since 2004. Its population in 2001 was 73,722....

    , located in east-central Nova Scotia
    Nova Scotia
    Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

    , which has been called a safe seat for the Conservative Party
    Conservative Party of Canada
    The Conservative Party of Canada , is a political party in Canada which was formed by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. It is positioned on the right of the Canadian political spectrum...

     and its predecessor, the Progressive Conservative Party
    Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
    The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada was a Canadian political party with a centre-right stance on economic issues and, after the 1970s, a centrist stance on social issues....

    , having been held by either Elmer MacKay
    Elmer MacKay
    Elmer MacIntosh MacKay, PC, QC is a retired Canadian politician.-Life and career:MacKay was born in Hopewell, Nova Scotia. He was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Central Nova through a 1971 by-election...

     or his son Peter
    Peter MacKay
    Peter Gordon MacKay, PC, QC, MP is a lawyer and politician from Nova Scotia, Canada. He is the Member of Parliament for Central Nova and currently serves as Minister of National Defence in the Cabinet of Canada....

     all but five of the last forty years. The only time the riding was not in Conservative control was from 1993
    Canadian federal election, 1993
    The Canadian federal election of 1993 was held on October 25 of that year to elect members to the Canadian House of Commons of the 35th Parliament of Canada. Fourteen parties competed for the 295 seats in the House at that time...

     to 1997
    Canadian federal election, 1997
    The Canadian federal election of 1997 was held on June 2, 1997, to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 36th Parliament of Canada. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's Liberal Party of Canada won a second majority government...

     when the Conservatives were reduced to just two seats and a socially-conservative candidate ran for the Liberals. In 1983, when Brian Mulroney
    Brian Mulroney
    Martin Brian Mulroney, was the 18th Prime Minister of Canada from September 17, 1984, to June 25, 1993 and was leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1983 to 1993. His tenure as Prime Minister was marked by the introduction of major economic reforms, such as the Canada-U.S...

     needed a seat in the House of Commons, he chose to run in Central Nova.
  • Crowfoot
    Crowfoot (electoral district)
    Crowfoot is a federal electoral district in Alberta, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1968.It is in the central part of the province, and is named in honour of Chief Crowfoot, leader of the Blackfoot First Nations in the 19th century.This electoral district...

    , a Conservative stronghold located in southern Alberta
    Alberta
    Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

    , which has been called the safest seat in the entire country. In the 2008 election
    Canadian federal election, 2008
    The 2008 Canadian federal election was held on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 to elect members to the Canadian House of Commons of the 40th Canadian Parliament after the previous parliament had been dissolved by the Governor General on September 7, 2008...

    , Conservative candidate Kevin Sorenson
    Kevin Sorenson
    Kevin A. Sorenson is a Canadian politician.Sorenson is a member of the Conservative Party of Canada in the Canadian House of Commons, representing the riding of Crowfoot since 2000. He has also been a member of the Canadian Alliance...

     won 82.04% of the vote, and in a ranking measuring the electoral competitiveness of ridings by National Post
    National Post
    The National Post is a Canadian English-language national newspaper based in Don Mills, a district of Toronto. The paper is owned by Postmedia Network Inc. and is published Mondays through Saturdays...

    reporter Dan Arnold, the district came in last in all of Canada, having an average margin of victory of 74%.
  • Mount Royal
    Mount Royal (electoral district)
    Mount Royal is a federal electoral district in Quebec, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1925. Its population in 2006 was 98,888....

    , a Liberal stronghold in Montreal, Quebec, held by a succession of Liberal MPs since 1940. Liberal Irwin Cotler
    Irwin Cotler
    Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, MP was Canada's Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada from 2003 until the Liberal government of Paul Martin lost power following the 2006 federal election. He was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the constituency of Mount Royal in a by-election...

     won over 75% of the vote in the 2004 federal election
    Canadian federal election, 2004
    The Canadian federal election, 2004 , was held on June 28, 2004 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 38th Parliament of Canada. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin lost its majority, but was able to form a minority government after the elections...

    .
  • Ottawa-Vanier, a Liberal stronghold in the eastern part of Ottawa
    Ottawa
    Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

    . It has elected a Liberal Member of Parliament each federal election since its creation in 1935
    Canadian federal election, 1935
    The Canadian federal election of 1935 was held on October 14, 1935 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 18th Parliament of Canada. The Liberal Party of William Lyon Mackenzie King won a majority government, defeating Prime Minister R.B. Bennett's Conservative Party.The central...

    , often in landslide victories. In fact, the previous electoral district which comprises most of the constituency, Russell
    Russell (Ontario electoral district)
    Russell was a federal and provincial electoral district in eastern Ontario, Canada, that was represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1867 to 1968, and in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1867 to 1967....

    , had been solidly Liberal since 1887.
  • Portage-Lisgar, one of many rural, southern safe seats in the Prairies for the Conservative Party of Canada
    Conservative Party of Canada
    The Conservative Party of Canada , is a political party in Canada which was formed by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. It is positioned on the right of the Canadian political spectrum...

    .
  • Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
    Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
    Saint-Laurent—Cartierville is a federal electoral district in Quebec, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1988. Its population in 2006 was 109,015.-Geography:...

    , another Liberal safe seat in Montreal. It has been held by the Liberals since its creation. In the 2004 federal election
    Canadian federal election, 2004
    The Canadian federal election, 2004 , was held on June 28, 2004 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 38th Parliament of Canada. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin lost its majority, but was able to form a minority government after the elections...

    , incumbent Stéphane Dion
    Stéphane Dion
    Stéphane Maurice Dion, PC, MP is a Canadian politician who has been the Member of Parliament for the riding of Saint-Laurent–Cartierville in Montreal since 1996. He was the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and the Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons from 2006 to 2008...

     won with over 65% of the vote, and over 21,000 votes more than his closest rival.
  • Wild Rose
    Wild Rose (electoral district)
    Wild Rose is a federal electoral district in Alberta, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1988. It had been called a safe seat for the Conservative Party of Canada.- Geography :...

    , a Conservative stronghold, also in southern Alberta
    Alberta
    Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

    . The incumbent, Blake Richards
    Blake Richards
    Blake Richards is a Canadian politician, who was first elected to represent the electoral district of Wild Rose in the 2008 Canadian federal election...

    , won 72.9% of the vote in the 2008 election
    Canadian federal election, 2008
    The 2008 Canadian federal election was held on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 to elect members to the Canadian House of Commons of the 40th Canadian Parliament after the previous parliament had been dissolved by the Governor General on September 7, 2008...

     in what ranked as the largest majority win in the history of the constituency. Richards' predecessor, Myron Thompson
    Myron Thompson
    Myron Thompson is a former Conservative Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons. He represented the riding of Wild Rose in Alberta....

    , won 72% compared to 10% for his closest rival in the 2006 federal election
    Canadian federal election, 2006
    The 2006 Canadian federal election was held on January 23, 2006, to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 39th Parliament of Canada. The Conservative Party of Canada won the greatest number of seats: 40.3% of seats, or 124 out of 308, up from 99 seats in 2004, and 36.3% of votes:...

    .
  • York Centre
    York Centre
    York Centre is a federal electoral district in Ontario, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1904 to 1917 and since 1953....

    , a safe seat for the Liberals in Toronto
    Toronto
    Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

    . Since the district's re-establishment in 1952, it has been out of Liberal hands only twice.
  • The City of Toronto, which holds 23 ridings is often considered a Liberal stronghold, having shut out the Conservative Party from the city in the six elections between 1993 and 2008, and having lost at most two ridings in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections to the New Democratic Party
    New Democratic Party
    The New Democratic Party , commonly referred to as the NDP, is a federal social-democratic political party in Canada. The interim leader of the NDP is Nycole Turmel who was appointed to the position due to the illness of Jack Layton, who died on August 22, 2011. The provincial wings of the NDP in...

    . The 2011 Canadian Federal Election ended the Liberal fortress of Toronto when both Conservatives and New Democrats elected many new MPs in the 416.

New Zealand


In New Zealand, many rural electorates, and those based in wealthy suburban areas, notably the North Shore and eastern suburbs of Auckland
Auckland
The Auckland metropolitan area , in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with residents, percent of the country's population. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world...

, are considered safe seats for the National Party
New Zealand National Party
The New Zealand National Party is the largest party in the New Zealand House of Representatives and in November 2008 formed a minority government with support from three minor parties.-Policies:...

. An example of a safe National seat is Taranaki-King Country
Taranaki-King Country
rightTaranaki-King Country is a New Zealand Parliamentary electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the New Zealand House of Representatives. The current MP for Taranaki-King Country is Shane Ardern of the National Party...

, currently held by Shane Ardern
Shane Ardern
Philip Shane Ardern is a New Zealand politician. He is a member of the National Party, representing the electorate of Taranaki-King Country.-Early years:...

, who gained 66% of votes in the 2005 election
New Zealand general election, 2005
The 2005 New Zealand general election held on 17 September 2005 determined the composition of the 48th New Zealand Parliament. No party won a majority in the unicameral House of Representatives, but the Labour Party of Prime Minister Helen Clark secured two more seats than nearest rival, the...

, with only 24.5% of votes going to his Labour
New Zealand Labour Party
The New Zealand Labour Party is a New Zealand political party. It describes itself as centre-left and socially progressive and has been one of the two primary parties of New Zealand politics since 1935....

 rival.

By contrast, inner-city and poorer suburban electorates are safe Labour seats. For example, in 2005, the seat of Mangere
Mangere (New Zealand electorate)
Māngere is a New Zealand Parliamentary electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the New Zealand House of Representatives. The current MP for Māngere is Su'a William Sio, elected for the Labour Party. He has held this seat since 2008....

 was won by incumbent Labour MP Taito Phillip Field
Taito Phillip Field
Taito Phillip Hans Field is a Samoan New Zealand politician. He was a Member of Parliament for south Auckland electorates from 1993 to 2008. Field was a minister outside Cabinet in a Labour-led government from 2003 to 2005. Following charges of bribery and perverting the course of justice, he was...

 with 67.7% of the vote, his National rival getting only 12.5% of the vote. (Ironically, from the resignation of Field from the Labour Party early in 2007 to the general election in 2008
New Zealand general election, 2008
The 2008 New Zealand general election was held on 8 November 2008 to determine the composition of the 49th New Zealand parliament. The conservative National Party, headed by its Parliamentary leader John Key, won a plurality of votes and seats, ending 9 years of government dominated by the social...

, this safest of Labour seats was represented by an independent MP.)

Historically, some seats thought to be safe have witnessed surprise upsets. Perhaps the most dramatic recent case was the 1996 election
New Zealand general election, 1996
The 1996 New Zealand general election was held on 12 October 1996 to determine the composition of the 45th New Zealand Parliament. It was notable for being the first election to be held under the new Mixed Member Proportional electoral system, and produced a parliament considerably more diverse...

, in which the Maori seats
Maori seats
In New Zealand politics, Māori electorates, colloquially also called Māori seats, are a special category of electorate that gives reserved positions to representatives of Māori in the New Zealand Parliament...

, safe Labour seats for the previous 60 years, were all won by the New Zealand First Party.

The adoption of proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 by New Zealand, beginning in 1996, has decreased the importance of winning votes in geographical electorates. It remains to be seen what long-term effect proportional representation will have on the safety of individual electorate seats.

United Kingdom


On 6 April 2010, the Electoral Reform Society
Electoral Reform Society
The Electoral Reform Society is a political pressure group based in the United Kingdom which promotes electoral reform. It is believed to be the oldest organisation concerned with electoral systems in the world.-Aims:...

 estimated that of the 650 constituencies, 382 (59%) were safe seats:
Party Safe Seats % safe seats
Conservatives
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

172 45.03%
Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

165 43.19%
Lib Dems
Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats are a social liberal political party in the United Kingdom which supports constitutional and electoral reform, progressive taxation, wealth taxation, human rights laws, cultural liberalism, banking reform and civil liberties .The party was formed in 1988 by a merger of the...

29 7.59%
SNP
Scottish National Party
The Scottish National Party is a social-democratic political party in Scotland which campaigns for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom....

3 0.79%
Plaid Cymru
Plaid Cymru
' is a political party in Wales. It advocates the establishment of an independent Welsh state within the European Union. was formed in 1925 and won its first seat in 1966...

2 0.52%
Northern Irish parties 11 2.88%
TOTAL 382 100%


Examples of safe seats are in the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 heartlands of North West (Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

) and North East England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 (South and West Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

, Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

 and Durham
Durham
Durham is a city in north east England. It is within the County Durham local government district, and is the county town of the larger ceremonial county...

), central Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 (Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

 and Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

) and also the urban seats of Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 and the West Midlands
West Midlands (region)
The West Midlands is an official region of England, covering the western half of the area traditionally known as the Midlands. It contains the second most populous British city, Birmingham, and the larger West Midlands conurbation, which includes the city of Wolverhampton and large towns of Dudley,...

. Those of the Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 are in the shires and affluent areas of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, for example Kensington
Kensington (UK Parliament constituency)
Kensington is a parliamentary constituency in the Parliament of the United Kingdom in west London, comprising the northern and central parts of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, around Kensington...

.
An example of a safe Labour seat is Bootle
Bootle (UK Parliament constituency)
Bootle is a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election. Since 1990 the MP has been Joe Benton of the Labour Party...

, where in the 2010 general election Labour received 66% of the vote, giving them a 51% majority over the second-placed Liberal Democrats
Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats are a social liberal political party in the United Kingdom which supports constitutional and electoral reform, progressive taxation, wealth taxation, human rights laws, cultural liberalism, banking reform and civil liberties .The party was formed in 1988 by a merger of the...

 (at 15%).
Beaconsfield
Beaconsfield (UK Parliament constituency)
Beaconsfield is a county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election. It is among the safest of Conservative seats....

 is a safe Conservative seat; in 2010 the party gathered 61% of the vote there, giving it a 41.5% majority. There are few seats that are very safe for the Liberal Democrats, as even ones that are perceived to be safe can be lost unexpectedly: Orkney & Shetland
Orkney and Shetland (UK Parliament constituency)
Orkney and Shetland is a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election...

 is one of the most reliable Lib Dem seats, and gave the party 62% of the vote in 2010.

Even the safest of seats can be - and sometimes are - upset. Whilst it is rare for the opposition to take such seats, outside candidates may be able to. Recent examples include the election of Peter Law
Peter Law
Peter John Law was a Welsh politician.- Labour Co-operative AM and Independent MP :For most of his career Law sat as a Labour Councillor and subsequently Labour Co-operative Assembly Member for Blaenau Gwent...

 and George Galloway
George Galloway
George Galloway is a British politician, author, journalist and broadcaster who was a Member of Parliament from 1987 to 2010. He was formerly an MP for the Labour Party, first for Glasgow Hillhead and later for Glasgow Kelvin, before his expulsion from the party in October 2003, the same year...

 to very safe Labour seats in 2005, and Martin Bell
Martin Bell
Martin Bell, OBE, is a British UNICEF Ambassador, a former broadcast war reporter and former independent politician...

 to the safe Conservative seat of Tatton
Tatton (UK Parliament constituency)
- Elections in the 1990s :- Elections in the 1980s :- Sources :* Data for the 2005 election are from the .* Data for the 2001 election are from http://www.election.demon.co.uk/....

 in 1997.
The loss of safe seats can go down in history. The loss by Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo
Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo is a British journalist, broadcaster, and former Conservative Party politician and Cabinet Minister...

 of his safe Conservative seat in 1997 has gone down in history and created the "Portillo moment". This moment has subsequently been used to describe huge voting swings that generally usher in a new government, as occurred in 1997.

United States


Many American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 commentators have decried the tendency of most House seats to become safe seats, decreasing the number of contested seats in every cycle. Specific U.S. State
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s, congressional district
Congressional district
A congressional district is “a geographical division of a state from which one member of the House of Representatives is elected.”Congressional Districts are made up of three main components, a representative, constituents, and the specific land area that both the representative and the...

s, and senate seats
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 since the 1990s are sometimes referred to as "solid blue" (Democratic Party) or "solid red" (Republican Party) after the use of these colors in television maps on election night.

The Cook Partisan Voting Index
Cook Partisan Voting Index
The Cook Partisan Voting Index , sometimes referred to as simply the Partisan Voting Index , is a measurement of how strongly an American congressional district or state leans toward one political party compared to the nation as a whole...

 rates congressional districts on how strongly they lean towards either major party. Currently New York's 15th
New York's 15th congressional district
New York's 15th Congressional District is a congressional district for the United States House of Representatives located in New York City. It is composed of Upper Manhattan, Rikers Island and a largely non-residential section of northwestern Queens on the shore of the East River mostly occupied...

 (Upper Manhattan
Upper Manhattan
Upper Manhattan denotes the more northerly region of the New York City Borough of Manhattan. Its southern boundary may be defined anywhere between 59th Street and 155th Street. Between these two extremes lies the most common definitions of Upper Manhattan as Manhattan above 96th Street...

, northwestern Queens
Queens
Queens is the easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. The largest borough in area and the second-largest in population, it is coextensive with Queens County, an administrative division of New York state, in the United States....

) and 16th
New York's 16th congressional district
New York's 16th Congressional District is a congressional district for the United States House of Representatives located in the Bronx. The district includes the neighborhoods of Bedford Park, East Tremont, Fordham, Hunts Point, Melrose, Highbridge, Morrisania, Mott Haven and University Heights. ...

 (South Bronx
South Bronx
The South Bronx is an area of the New York City borough of The Bronx. The neighborhoods of Tremont, University Heights, Highbridge, Morrisania, Soundview, Hunts Point, and Castle Hill are sometimes considered part of the South Bronx....

) districts are the most Democratic at D+41 while, Alabama's 6th
Alabama's 6th congressional district
Alabama's 6th congressional district is a U.S. congressional district in Alabama, which elects a representative to the United States House of Representatives. It encompasses the counties of Chilton, Bibb and Shelby. It also includes parts of St. Clair County, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, and Coosa counties...

 (suburbs of Birmingham
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

) and Texas's 13th
Texas's 13th congressional district
-References:*...

 (far northern Texas including the Texas Panhandle
Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

) are the most Republican at R+29.

Other examples of a safe seat for the Democrats
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 is New York's 11th congressional district
New York's 11th congressional district
New York's 11th Congressional District is a congressional district for the United States House of Representatives located in Brooklyn. It includes the neighborhoods of Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens...

 in eastern Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, which has elected only one Republican since 1881. Major R. Owens, the previous incumbent, won reelection with over 85% of the vote in every election from 1998 to 2006, when he retired.

Republican safe seat examples include Tennessee's 1st congressional district
Tennessee's 1st congressional district
The Tennessee 1st Congressional District is the congressional district of northeast Tennessee, including all of Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties and parts of Jefferson County and Sevier County...

 and Tennessee's 2nd congressional district
Tennessee's 2nd congressional district
The 2nd congressional district of Tennessee is a congressional district in Tennessee. It currently includes the east central part of the state....

, which combined have been held by Republicans or their predecessors (except for two terms in the 1st) since 1859 (despite the switch between the Republican and Democratic parties in the U.S. south).

See also

  • Rotten borough
    Rotten borough
    A "rotten", "decayed" or pocket borough was a parliamentary borough or constituency in the United Kingdom that had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain undue and unrepresentative influence within Parliament....

  • Marginal seat
    Marginal seat
    A marginal seat, or swing seat, is a constituency held with a particularly small majority in a legislative election, generally conducted under a single-winner voting system. In Canada they may be known as target ridings. The opposite is a safe seat....

  • Gerrymandering
    Gerrymandering
    In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts...

  • Electoral stasis
  • Tantamount to election
    Tantamount to election
    "Tantamount to election" is a phrase to describe a situation in which one political party so dominates the demographics of a voting district, that the person winning the party nomination for a race will virtually be assured of winning the general election...