Lecture 10: Party Systems
What are the voters making choices?
How are legislative seats organized?
If you have proportional representation, you will have more parties
In a majority system, you will have fewer parties
Political parties have a key role to play in forming voters' choices, parties do their best to change voters
Political parties are key to democratic development. Democracy is a system in which parties lose
elections. Egypt had elections for many years but only after the arab spring that you can think of Egypt as
a true democracy
Having just one party is not enough for us to think about democracy as a true political reality
How do party systems change?
– Change the underlying electoral rules (new zealand)
– The voter has to be the primary
– what are the important dimensions or issues which have an impact on the seemingly simple
process of putting an “x” next to a party or persons name.
– This might tell us how parties compete for seats and votes
Understanding the voter (a spatial theory of voting)
– There is an order to voters, in one dimension.
– The voting rule for each voter is simple, all they care about, they simply vote for the candidate
which holds views closest to their own.
– We must assume that it is a majoritarian system.
– Based on this, what will parties do?
– Median: middle voter
– Nash Equilibrium: i'm happy with my choices given what everyone else is doing. If that is true
for everyone involved, that is Nash's equilibrium.
– You want to place yourself in the middle of the voters to get the most votes from both the right
and the left.
– Based on these assumptions, parties will converge to the median voter.
The Lure of the Median Voter
– Convergence to the moderate middle
– leaves out how parties impact voters
– leaves out which dimensions matter
– This assumes that parties don't stand for anything.
Functions of political parties
John Meisel (Queen's)
– Integrating citizens into the political system
– elite recruitment
– organizing public opinion
– interest aggregation – unless you live in a small place or you live in a place where everyone thinks the same way, in
order to win, you have to build a coalition.You have to build a base, have to be attractive
enough to a wide array of people so that their votes will carry you to government.
– Developing policy
– Structuring the vote
– must think if the person is voting for the person or for the party
– Organization of Government
– once they win, they have to organize seats, PM selects his cabinet,
R. Carty (UBC) et al.
– Representation and accommodation of interests
– democratic organization
– contesting elections
Carty's 3 party system
took it upon himself to determine if there were different era's in party competition, he argued yes.
– 2 party system (They pulled in 95% of the vote)
– patronage politics
– parliamentary party
– ended with electoral reform (precursor to today's electi