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Lecture 9

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Political Science
POLI 222
Christa Scholtz

Party Systems Introduction Voters' choice --> Electoral rules --> legislative seats Political Parties Key to democratic development "Democracy is a system in which parties lose elections" Adam Przeworski If it is parties losing elections that make a democracy, then our attention should not be onto the upcoming Egyptian elections, but the real test is the election AFTER that The 2nd elections determine whether a party is willing to lose How do party systems change? Change in electoral rules e.g. New Zealand Change in underlying bases of party support Need to understand the voter Primary source of political change Cleavage structures The important dimensions and issues that determine or impact the way voters think about politics, have an impact on who they vote for Spatial Theory of Voting 9 voters Assumptions They are organized in a particular way, according to a dimension The voting rule is simple: they only thing they care about is to vote for the candidate that is closest to their opinion in that dimension Majoritarian system The person with the most votes win Based on these assumptions, what is the prediction of what parties will do? Median voter The person that splits the distribution in half Nash equilibrium Nobody has an incentive to deviate from their course of action, given what everyone else is doing If everyone is happy with whatever they're doing, and there's no incentive to change the status quo, there's an equilibrium *see powerpoint* Conclusion The equilibrium will converge into a median voter The parties will move to the middle to obtain more votes and win The Lure of the Median Voter Prediction Convergence to the moderate middle Problems Which dimensions matter? After a while, different parties will have the same policies and try to achieve the same thing So the voter end up choosing between two extremely similar parties Moderate view is the best if you want to govern Functions of Political Parties John Meisel (Queen's) Integrating citizens into the political systems Elite recruitment Choose people who can stand for election Oil in the machine of a political party Organizing public opinion They are not neutral passer-by, they attempt to alter public opinion in their favour Interest aggregation In order to win, they need to create a coalition of citizens under your umbrella and make a collective of interests to attract a wide enough array of people in your voter base That umbrella will bring you into office (hopefully) Developing policy Structuring the vote How does the voter make the decision about choosing who they vote for Parties help structure the choice of a vote by making it as simple as possible Organization of government By holding the majority seat you get to choose your cabinet and organizing procedures in gov. R. Carty (UBC) Representation and accommodation of interests Democratic organization Contesting elections Governing 3 party systems 1867-1919 2 party system Liberals and conservatives Pre democratic Suffrage was limited to property owner Ended with the Dominion Elections Act Patronage politics
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