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English definition of “sympathy vote”

sympathy vote

noun [S] uk   UK informal us  
an occasion when a lot of people vote for or support a particular person because he or she has suffered recently: He won the award, but some suspected it was a sympathy vote following his struggle with cancer.Sympathy and compassion
(Definition of sympathy vote from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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