Interest aggregation and political parties
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Interest Aggregation and Political Parties. Comparative Politics Chapter 5. Interest aggregation – the activity where the political demands of people and groups are combined into policy programs. Political skills and resources are used to accomplish this: Votes Campaign funds

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Interest Aggregation and Political Parties

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Interest aggregation and political parties

Interest Aggregation and Political Parties

Comparative Politics

Chapter 5


Interest aggregation and political parties

  • Interest aggregation – the activity where the political demands of people and groups are combined into policy programs. Political skills and resources are used to accomplish this:

    • Votes

    • Campaign funds

    • Political offices

    • Media access

    • Armed force


Personal interest aggregation

Personal Interest Aggregation

  • Patron-client networks – do something nice for your ‘clients’ (supporters) and they will take care of you (keep you in office)

    • Feudalism – Lord and the serfs

    • Boss Tweed – NY political machine

    • Richard Daley, Sr. – Chicago political machine

    • President of U.S. – Cabinet, Executive Office, Joint Chiefs of Staff, etc.


Interest aggregation and political parties

  • Problem with this is that it usually means the political system it’s in is static – hard to change

    • U.S. – corrupt politics

    • Asia – family oriented

    • Middle East – Tribal/religious orientation

    • Europe – ethnically oriented (especially eastern Europe)


Institutional interest

Institutional Interest

  • As societies have modernized, the patron-client system has evolved into a larger network

  • Patron-client is the nucleus and this small network spreads out to connect with larger, more powerful/influential networks

  • This larger connection goes back to the Association Groups from the previous chapter.

  • The bureaucracy negotiates with interest groups to get policy made and implemented


Competitive party systems and interest aggregation

Competitive Party Systems and Interest Aggregation

  • Political parties – groups or organizations that seek to place candidates in office under their label.

  • In the competitive system, political parties tend to try to gain electoral support

  • In other words, the political parties will try to win the support of the various “social” subgroups in order to get their candidate in office


Interest aggregation and political parties

  • Elections

    • One of the few ways diverse groups of people can express their varying interests equally and comprehensively

      • Parties generally keep their promises once they are elected

      • Liberals tend to increase government involvement in daily lives

      • Conservatives tend to slow down, or decrease the government involvement in daily lives


Interest aggregation and political parties

  • Radical changes that are promised by a party before it comes into power is sometimes not possible as quickly and easily as they promised once they achieve the power.

    • Even though voters may have supported the concept of change, they may not have realized the consequences involved in such change, thus slowing down the implementation

    • Also, the parties who are not currently ‘in power’ also still have a say in the policy making process and may still impede the progress/change of the party in power


Interest aggregation and political parties

  • Elections don’t always provide interest aggregation, sometimes, it’s just a social thing

    • Communist countries only allowing one candidate on the ballot, but making everyone vote


Interest aggregation and political parties

  • Electoral Systems determine

    • Who can vote

    • How they vote

    • How the votes are counted

  • Single-member District

    • Plurality – you don’t need a majority (51%) to win, you just need the most votes

      • Common in the U.S. in many local elections

      • Not valid in national and some state level postitions


Interest aggregation and political parties

  • Majority Runoff/Double Ballot

    • 1st voting narrows down the candidates

    • 2nd voting gets a winner with a majority

    • Exceptions can occur if a candidate gets the required majority (51%) in the 1st voting

  • Proportional Representation

    • The country is divided into large districts and each district gets to elect a lot of representatives (sometimes 20-30)


  • Interest aggregation and political parties

    • The people vote for their favorite candidates

    • The parties whose candidates receive a minimum percentage of votes get to send their winners to the legislature. If a party doesn’t get the minimum, then they may have some aspects of their people unrepresented

  • Primary Elections

    • Parties offer their top candidates and let the voters choose who will run for office against the candidates from the other parties


  • Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Closed-list proportional representation

      • Elected officials choose from their top and the voters have no say about who their candidates might be

    • Open-list

      • Voters do get to make choices of their favorites from a list of candidates. Those with the most votes may get to run


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Patterns of Electoral Competition

      • Duverger’s Law – there is a systemiatic relationship between electoral systems and party systems

        • Plurality single-member districts tend to create two-party systems

        • Proportional representation generates multi-party systems

        • How does this happen?

          • Mechanical effect – the way that different electoral systems convert votes into seats

          • Psychological effect voters and candidates anticipate the mechanical effect

            • Voters may not throw support behind candidates they feel are hopeless

            • Voting for the next best option or the one that will cause the ‘least damage’ is called strategic voting


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Down’s Median Voter Result

      • Political parties will try to modify their stand on various issues to win the support of the median voter

      • Two-party systems have a convergence to the center to try to win these median voters

        • In the U.S. there are Republicans who flirt with the left and Democrats who flirt with the right.


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Competitive Parties in Government

      • It helps get policies passed if a party wins the majority in the legislative and has control of the executive.

        • This works better in single party districts

        • In pluralities, a party may win control without the majority of the support because of how the seats are distributed to the winner.

          • Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair had less than 50% of the popular vote but them and their party got control.

          • Sometimes, parties will combine to gain control

            • The recent elections in Britain that brought David Cameron in as Prime Minister


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Aggregation of Interests when coalitions form has costs and benefits

      • The elite determine gov’t policy, and the people feel left out

        • Voters are often discourage by this because they feel their vote doesn’t count

      • When there is a coalition, sometimes the interests of a minority party can be used in negotiations, getting them a policy they may want but might not have gotten had a party gained a clear majority


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Cooperation and Conflict in Competitive Party Systems

      • Majoritarian two-party systems

        • Dominated by two parties (U.S.)

        • Have two dominant parties and election laws usually create legislative majorities for one of them (Britain)

      • Majority coalition systems

        • Parties form preelectoral coalitions so that voters know which parties will attempt to work together for form the policies (Germany & France)

      • Multiparty systems

        • Election laws can party systems that virtually ensure that no single party wins a legislative majority and no traditional of preelection coalitions


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Party antagonism/polarization

      • Consensual party system

        • The parties commanding most of the legislative seats are not to far apart on policies and have a reasonable amount of trust in each other and in the political system

      • Conflictual party system

        • The legislature is dominated by parties that are far apart on issues or are antagonistic toward each other and the political system

      • Consociational/Accomodative system

        • Party systems in which political leaders are able to bridge the intense differences between antagonistic voters through power-sharing, broad coalitions, and decentralization of sensitive decisions to the separate social groups (Christians and Muslims in Lebanon)


    Authoritarian party systems

    Authoritarian Party Systems

    • Aggregation takes place

      • Within the party

      • In interactions with

        • Business groups

        • Unions

        • Landowners

        • Institutional groups in the bureaucracy

        • Military

    • Elections are sham to make people think they are included


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Exclusive Governing Parties

      • Totalitarian

        • One party

        • Top-down control of society

        • No opposition parties or interest groups

        • Legitimacy is provided by clear ideology

        • Failed Totalitarian governments

          • USSR

          • Eastern Europe

        • Working totalitarian governments

          • North Korea

          • Cuba


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • China – mixed and confusing

      • Government no longer controls the economy

      • Government still prohibits mass organization against it’s legitimacy

  • Demise of totalitarianism

    • Greed for power distorts original ideology

    • Limited government ability to control society

    • Loss of confidence in Communism


  • Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Inclusive Governing Parties

      • Ethnic and tribal authoritarian

        • Usually succeed because they are inclusive

          • Recognize autonomy of

            • Social

            • Cultural

            • Economic groups

          • Bargain with these groups instead of controlling and remaking them

          • Examples:

            • Kenya

            • Tanzania


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Authoritarian Corporatist Systems

      • Allow formation of interest groups

        • Groups bargain with each other

        • Groups bargain with the government

      • Do not allow political resources directly to the people

      • They sometimes allow opposition parties if they are no real threat to the control

      • Electoral Authoritarianism

        • Façade of democracy that doesn’t really challenge the gov’t

          • Some political opposition

          • Independent media

          • Social Organizations

        • Example: Mexican PRI


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • These governments often are born in the fight against colonialism and begin to dissipate after the leaders die or retire

      • Memories of struggle for independence fade

      • Ideology weakens

      • Worldwide spread of democracy causes people to question the legitimacy of a single party.


    Military interest aggregation

    Military & Interest Aggregation

    • Military Government

      • When civilian governments cannot control society, the military often gets control by default

      • Military has a monopoly on coercive actions to maintain control of society

      • After the military takes over

        • May support a tyrant

        • May try to use their power to further controlling party ideology


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • When the military has taken over they sometimes try to set up a bureaucratic version of authoritarian corporatism

      • Link organized groups with them (the military as the final say in arbitration)

    • Major limitations of military interest aggregation

      • Their internal structure is not designed for interest aggregation

      • They are not set up for

        • Aggregation of internal differences

        • Building compromises

        • Mobilizing popular support

        • Communications with social groups outside of the military

    • Military control is often linked with other institutions and may withdraw from control once another, more stable government is established


    Trends in interest aggregation

    Trends in Interest Aggregation


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • 1980s we saw the trend toward democracy in Eastern Europe

    • 1990s African nations began to move toward democracy

    • After 2005-2006, we have seen a move toward democracy in the Middle East

      • Algeria

      • Tunisia

      • Egypt


    Significance of interest aggregation

    Significance of Interest Aggregation

    • Successful public policy depends on effective interest aggregation

      • Narrow policy options so citizen demands are converted into a few policy alternatives

        • May eliminate some policies in the process

    • Competitive Party Systems narrow down and combine policy preferences by through elections

      • Voters support the party that has their preferences

      • Unpopular preferences are then eliminated by the majority


    Interest aggregation and political parties

    • Noncompetitive Party Systems, military gov’ts and monarchies aggregation can determine policy

      • Authoritarian and military governments may just decide the program

      • Legislative assemblies, military councils or party politburos may have to negotiate policies

    • How well a government aggregates is the final determining factor in it’s adaptability and stability


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