POLB52 – Lecture 11 – March 28 2013.
Parties and Party Systems
Argument: Idea that political parties are in decline. Evidence: people cite declining
attachment of people for politics. Political Parties Provide people with identities that
make people participate in politics.
Political parties, in our system can’t win if you appeal in one group. They have to build
coalition of people that will make them win.
Political parties aggregating our interest in societies.
Political Parties shape political agreements/public opinions/political opinions. They
shape political disagreements too. Ex. The environment, support for same sex-marriage,
etc. Ask yourself why these issues tend to go to peoples mind?
Political Parties are important players are political parties.
Parties change first and then the public change second.
Ex. In the Vietnam War, both democratic and the republicans support the Vietnam War
and in public opinion. Over time, the consensus went down, democrats oppose to the
Political Parties are organizations that contest elections. They aggregate interests, shape
disagreement, focus accountability.
Political parties focus on accountability. Each MP should know its people’s will.
Problem: How does the consistutent know the will of their people? How do voters hold
accountable on what political leaders do? Canadians are pretty clear of who they could
Think of it as elements of broader category of organization like any other organization.
We can think of them as different properties. We can separate them on the goals they
pursue (ex. Public good, private goods, public goals, private goals)
Think of organizations the context in which they operate. Competitive context or market
context which are organizations competing in scared resources. This kind of context
shapes a number of things. There should be efficiency. In competitive markets, there are
clear indicators of success and failures. Universities compete for students but they also
decline students so it’s not a measure.
Taxonomy of organization Membership incentive – money, important. Different kinds of incentive attract
different kind of people which are people who want money.
Market competitive vs. Non-Market (Cooperative)
People who are participating for social benefits – status, prestige, status friends, for
People who participate in an organization because they want to help obtain the
If you’re in an organization that draws people with money, you may not really find
people who want to work more without money incentives.
There’s a chance that when you give people wages and before they don’t, they might
Provide monetary incentives
Purposive interests – political goods
Market context provide two types of incentives – proposal and social incentives. The
key thing is they are strange hybrids. They exist in market context competing with other
groups for votes.
Political Parties in Canada
In Canada, we have many parties –
o NDP, formerly CCF and officially the opposition party right now
o Liberal Party – third place party in the house of common right now.
o Conservative government – party right now – merger of Canadian Alliance and
Progressive Conservative party
o Green Party – minor political party, electoral performance various 5% of the
popular votes, and no seats to 2 seats
o Bloc Quebecois – Quebec separatism, founded from the Progressive
o Various Minor Parties (Marxist party)
Canadian Parties in Comparative Perspective
Party ideology – Do they promote religious issue? Do they support taxes? Etc.?
NDP – socialist party, in the socialist international, skeptical of free market capitalism.
They don’t think it’s the greatest social good. They restrict capitalism.
Liberal party – liberal international, collect organization. They are as a group that are
strongly agreed to capitalism, less welfare, etc. They are very committed to women’s
rights, rights to gays and lesbians. They are Small-l in economics and small-l in social issues. Basically they are “Do what you want and take accountability” They play a huge
role in Canadian history.
Conservative Party – allied with political parties of the conservative party in Britain, etc.,
support free market, traditional moral values, moral support, etc.
Green Party – environmentalist party – Global Greens, support environmental issues,
liberal left wing in social issues and highly critical in capitalism
Bloc Quebecois – regional separatist – doesn’t belong in an international organizations
Ways to Classifying Parties
Party families – they see families of parties, similar name, common social movements
(ex. religious movements), common functions within the country which they operate,
o left – greater equality,
o right – support everything else, free market capitalism, don’t like immigrants,
Party Structure –
o Cadre Parties – elite politics, elite accommodation, and focused in winning
o Mass Parties – grass route members, rally members and supporters, members
choose leaders, have to appeal to their members, expect what the policies are,
create policy convention and they vote on policies
Party theory – in any kind of organization, no matter how democratic, Parties are
inherently inequality will emerge.
In every political party, there is still a tendency for small groups to rise up and take
Articles about Liberal party – has basically opened itself up so much that not only did it
give its members a vote of who their leader is, even people who aren’t part of the party
vote who the leader is. Is it or isn’t it more democratic? What are the kinds of resources
it requires? The skills you need involve social communications and resources. These
resources are not evenly distributed in the party. This is probably not going to work
Historically, politics in Canada revolved around two cadre parties – Conservatives and
Canadians parties were preoccupied with Brokerage Parties