- also structure voting and organize electoral choice; determine and define what issues are
- recruit candidates and leaders; education function (policy issues and choices made
available to the public); transmission belts between public opinion and making public
- educate the public in raising issues, putting out facts
- vehicles for leaders to communicate with the public; set the political agenda
- if elected, they run the bureaucracy
Parties may not be democratic! Paradox!
- a lot to be desired when viewing them as democratic institutions
- different conceptions of democracy
- some societies have one-party-dominant systems
- can still be democratic
- to us it is the ability to choose
Decline of the party?
- are they empty vessels?
- De Tocqueville described parties as an evil inherent in free societies
- what would a democratic Canada look like without political parties?
1) In countries that have congressional systems, the parties unite to back a
presidential candidate; once the election is over, they act independent from their
party. They see themselves as delegates or ambassadors for the constituency, and
not necessarily or at all for the president.
2) In a parliamentary system (Westminster style; NZ, AUS, CAN) parties stick
together. Party members rarely break discipline; if the Prime Minister loses a
vote, an election is called; parties thus work together to ensure the strength of the
party and avoid collapse. In our system, MPs have a collective responsibility; they
are thus not delegates per se, but members of national organizations; first and
foremost party members, not ambassadors.
3) In countries with proportional representation is multiple-party-systems. In PR
countries, a small percentage is needed to be able to sit in parliament; thus some
countries, such as Israel, have many parties vying for any number of seats. Thus, a
parliamentary majority is very rare, and coalition governments run the country.
Parties fulfill a social role
- much more so in the past, when there was little technology for entertainment
- now, one does not have to join a party for entertainment or even marriage; most party
membership these days is actually artificial
- party membership moves like a yo-yo; means little in Canada
Perhaps another reason some claim that parties are on a decline is that politics is more
-party policy is less based on fundamental values as social issues