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Political Parties. And Election Systems. Political Parties & Democracy. In democracies, citizens organize their political activity through political parties and the election process.

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Political parties l.jpg

Political Parties

And Election Systems


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Political Parties & Democracy

  • In democracies, citizens organize their political activity through political parties and the election process.

  • Parties develop out of our differences about how to achieve common goals. They are a natural product of a democratic and free society.


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Purpose of Parties

According to the text, the purpose is “to put forward proposed leaders whom they support for official positions in government.”

Also, parties want to have an impact on public policy. They don’t simply want to win office; they want to win office so that they can affect what decisions are made.


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Purpose of Parties

  • Even when they lose office, parties perform a useful role in a democracy, by organizing the opposition and offering alternatives.

  • Parties create important links between the voter, groups & government. To succeed, they must build consensus.


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Party Functions

  • 1. they mobilize ordinary citizens, either to vote or to achieve some other political goal.

  • 2. they recruit and socialize leaders, even in one-party states.

  • 3. they provide a long-lasting sense of party identification.


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Party Functions

  • 4. they can provide a means for party leaders to control rank and file members.

  • 5. they provide links between:

    • Branches of government in a separation of powers system.

    • Levels of government in a federal system.

    • Citizens and government in all systems.


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Parties in Non-democracies

Functions may differ. They:

* mobilize support for the regime.

* recruit and train potential leaders.

* oversee the bureaucracy.

* spy on population (in totalitarian systems)

Not a link between the bottom and top, but a means of social control by the top over the bottom.


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Types of Party Systems

  • One-Party Authoritarian.

    Government & party closely linked. No opposition parties permitted.

  • Example:

    • Communist Party in North Korea

      Kim Il Sung

      of North

      Korea


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Types of Party Systems

  • Dominant Party System; one-party dominates for long periods of time. No legal ban on other parties, but only one party has chance to win office, and there may be informal harassment of opposition parties.

  • Examples:

    • PRI in Mexico until the 1990s

    • Japan until the 1990s

    • Singapore


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Types of Party Systems

  • Two Party System. Either party has genuine chance to win office; elections truly competitive.

    Additional parties not outlawed but have serious difficulty winning because of electoral system.

    Tend to be umbrella parties; tend to be stable.

    Disadvantage: Voters limited to two choices.

  • Examples:

    • United States, Canada, Britain, New Zealand


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Types of Party Systems

  • Multi-Party System. Competitive elections with multiple parties ensure that no one party can dominate for long. Parties tend to be more doctrinaire and distinctive, giving voters more choice.

    By far the most common; see examples in text.


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Types of Party Systems

In Multi-party states, it’s difficult for any one party to win a majority. Coalitions with similar parties become necessary. But coalition partners may resign over particular government policies, so this system is less stable.

Example of government instability:

Italy, from 1945 to 1995, had 44 different coalition governments.


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Example: Israeli Elections 2006

  • March 2006

    Election outcome:

    Kadima Party

    wins the most with

    28 seats in the

    Knesset. The new

    Prime Minister Olmert

    must form a coalition government.


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Example: Israeli Elections 2006

Winning party: Kadima: 28 seats, centristProbable partners:2. Labour: 20 seats, centre-leftPossible partners:3. Shas: 13 seats, ultra-orthodox4. Pensioners: 7 seats, single-issue5. Torah Judaism: 6 seats, ultra-orthodox6. Meretz: 4 seats, left-wingUnlikely partners:7. Israel Beitenu: 12 seats, Russian emigres, far-right8. Likud: 11 seats, right-wing9. Arab parties: 10 seats10. National Union/Religious: 9 seats, far-right, settlers


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Elections & parties

  • Grigsby: “Election strategies are influenced heavily by election rules concerning the counting of votes.”

  • Election rules include: how votes are counted; if some seats are set aside for certain groups of voters, if any consideration is given to a candidate who places a close second.

  • The rules determine the party system.


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Types of Election Systems

Single Member Plurality (SMP)

The candidate who wins a plurality of the vote prevails; a majority is not needed. Only one seat per district. No way for voters to designate their 2nd choice. Tends to produce a two-party system unless a small party’s voters are concentrated in a district.

  • Used in the U.S., Canada, India, Britain, New Zealand, Germany.


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Major U.S. Political Parties

  • Republican National Party

    • http://www.rnc.org/

  • Democratic National Party

    • http://www.democrats.org/


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Minor U.S. Political Parties

Scores of minor parties, among them:

  • Green Party

    • http://www.gp.org/

  • Democratic Socialists of America

    • http://www.dsausa.org/dsa.html

  • Libertarian Party

    • http://www.lp.org/


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Minor U.S. Political Parties

Chance of winning statewide or national office low. Why?

SMP system

Electoral College

Presidential candidates must win 270 electors (out of 538) to win office.

Example: Ross Perot & Reform Party in 1992 won 19% of the popular vote but not one elector.


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Multi-Party Election Systems

  • Proportional Representation (PR).

    Each district has multiple seats. Each political party wins the same proportion of seats as the vote it wins.

    Favors the development of multiple political parties.


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Sample

ballot if

we used

PR for

Congress


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Multi-Party Election Systems - Example

Assume the following vote distribution in

a district with 10 parliamentary seats:

Quisenberry Party wins 50%

Wiggins Party wins 30%

Baker Party wins 20%

How many seats does each party win?


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Multi-Party Election Systems - Example

Wiggins Party wins 50%

Quisenberry Party wins 30%

Baker Party wins 20%

SO:

Wigginistas gain 5 seats

Quisenberries win 3 seats

Bakerites gain 2 seats


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