Lecture 9 %28March 15%29.doc

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18 Apr 2012

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Thursday, March-15-12
POL111: Lecture 9
Canada in a Comparative Perspective
Classifying Democracies
o By governments-presidential, parliamentary or mixed system
o By electoral systems-such as proportional
o By party systems-the electoral system often determines the
composition of party systems
Function of parties-they are groups of people in a team who compete in
elections, they promise things to voters and to try to gain their votes,
collectively they want to win office
What function do political parties serve? What problem are they solving?
Functional terms-if you want to understand why an animal has certain
features you ask what’s the reason for that feature i.e. what do they have
sharp teeth, because they can tear through flesh
Similarly, the function of parties serve a representative, instrumental and
an expressive function
o They are not perfectly defined and overlap a little bit
What do parties do (slide):
o Parties act as a link between individuals and the state
o They do it by recruiting the people who are going to be politicians
o In Canada, you could try to find a local/notable person in the
community to run for office
o Aggregate pressure-politics is a social choice with different people
who have different demands, parties collect all those preferences,
order them and say this time we are going for this policy, they give
people a vehicle to seek out their demands
o They also look for groups to support them in return for expressing
their complaints
o Integrate individuals-you can get involved in the political process by
joining an NGO or starting a petition about an issue, lobbying a
politician or getting involved with the party-they are the logical
vehicle in which people are integrated into the political order
o After hearing what the population wants and aggregating it, as well
as after recruiting people in the party to give them an entry point to
political order, the final representative function they serve is to
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Thursday, March-15-12
determine which preferences they will pursue i.e. What policies they
will introduce
o The representative function is the substance of what parties are
doing, it is the “what” they are doing, i.e. They are aggregating
preferences and deciding on political action
The instrumental function is how they go about being successful
o They strike bargains, stagger demands, they figure out the order of
what they will pursue and how they will do it, and they will negotiate
with other parties to do this
o They becomes instruments for modifying or changing political order,
if a party is in power, that party could be removed by joining with
other parties
o They also collude to prevent entry-level parties-parties, which
disagree in terms of policy and who should be PM, or what
government should do, but they will agree the rules they were
elected should be the rules that should remain in place. Any changes
in the rules that would result in some of the parties being knocked
out while others coming in are opposed.
o They try and keep competition from destroying political order-parties
could try to destroy their opponents, they could say that all
politicians are terrible people/they are corrupt/you cant trust them,
you could say the whole system could be revised but this destroys
the order In other words, they still want to maintain the current
political system and rules that got them elected
Expressive function-parties become the expressions of social conflict; they
give voice to people’s demands. For example, you might want universal
education or education.
They are the vehicle through which people’s desire can be
solved/addressed through politics
Parties are the machinery competing in elections, acts intermediary of
society and government, they are organization that compete to try to be in
better position for elections
If parties serve all of these functions and they are important why wouldn’t
we expect to have more parties
Historically, the conservatives and liberals have been the dominant parties
that have constantly alternated as the head of government
What causes some countries to have many parties while others a few:
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Thursday, March-15-12
o 1. Electoral rule-the rules under which elections are held and the
mechanism on which votes are translated to seats
o 2. Cleavages
o 3. Interaction between division in society and electoral rules
Electoral Rules and Parties
o Relationship between electoral rules and parties is that in purity
system where you when with the most votes in a one member
district there are smaller parties
o In proportional systems there is a multiparty system where you have
lots of parties competing and running for office
o This is stylized to a rule called the M+1 rule (in any electoral district
there will be M+1 effective number of contenders for
representation)=the number of parties that have a chance in a
district is equal to the number of seats available in that district +1 ex.
in Canada we have a SMD where one seat is 1, there are 2 effective
contenders (1+1) if you are electing 3-4 from a district, there are 4-5
But it’s not all-they don’t determine the number of parties
Cleavages-deep divisions in a society
Cleavage lines
o This is important because they structure our politics, politics is about
different groups of people competing for power, cleavages create
these groups
o They take one side of the dividing line and represent the people on
one side of that line
o They are not just made by politicians but they are deep societal long-
lasting divisions
o They are disputes over important things that can be political
o Within in each person there is a sense of identity and that is
determined by your race, ethnicity, where you live, your parents jobs
and the amount of money you got
The conditions under which they matter for politics is that they have to be
social divisions
o Divisions that exist in society and they have to be structural like your
religion, occupation and economic class
o Collective identity-you have to know that you have this view and you
see yourself as being from the upper class or a catholic but you have
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