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POL101Y1 (1,148)

Sept 13 2010

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Political Science
Nelson Wiseman

POL356 Lectures th Lecture 1 (Sept 13 , 2010): Introduction to the Course Support/trust in political parties has gone from 30% in 1979 to 7% in 1991 - rise of social groups and single-purpose organizations may have played a part - the more highly educated are leaving party politics for social group politics, thinking they can make a greater impact via that course Studies show that voter turnout is down in 18/20 western states - parties are less able now to mobilize people to vote - -:9Z0.,39Z7L904114:r parties Remarkable: parties are adept at adjusting and adapting to changes in society - access to the internet; used by parties - Authors: demographic shifts, globalization, international migration, increasing affluence, technological change and growth of bureaucratic power presents greatest threat to parties in 150 years - all of these changes (save for the last) have happened in the past; take migration for example: much lower now than in the past. Technology: streetcars, telephones, etc. all appeared and were groundbreaking at the time; are these changes less revolutionary? Television? Radio? Both completely revolutionized politics Two of the authors argue that Canada has never had a real issue with class politics; that political parties prefer to deal with issues such as religion, regionalism, language, ethnicity - shunned away from gaps between the rich and poor - Wiseman: not necessarily the case We hear a great deal about the middle class, but not the others, in Canada, but class differences are definitely present in Canada - NDP in poorer/rural areas; Conservatives in wealthy neighbourhoods Parties came about from groups who organized around charismatic figures - Party politics has grown to become perhaps the greatest subject of study in political science Canada differs from the United States in terms of parties - three vs. two Regionalism is very important in Canadian political parties Some posit that Canadians do not have a set party affiliation, but instead act as consumers How important are leaders in politics? Wiseman suggests they play an increasingly important role Can we imagine politics without parties? Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, at the provincial level do Peoples values shape partisan choices - survey research, however, is tempting In the past 15 years, many provinces have looked seriously into different types of electoral systems - recall the referendum in Ontario in 2006 - Several in British Columbia Decline of the Party? :K070/439Z0K,;054OL9L.,O5,79L08 - Some monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia; those with Emperors (etc.) - Transitional societies, such as French West Africa in the 1960s Parties are voluntary associations that are regulated by law (which began in the 1970s) - Party names began to appear on ballots; had great implications - Parties mobilize people, represent various interests in society, provide compromises among competing views within the party; provide us with leaders; provide us with candidates; runs the government and apparatus if elected; proving ground for leaders; - odds of being elected without being a member of a party (independent) is small Some have specific interests, such as previous Christian parties or the Green Party - some want to transform society (Liberal Reform Parties; Social Democratic/Labour parties) - fascist, communist, nationalist, etc. Parties are ubiquitous - countries have competitive party systems - it took a long time for parties to develop and become important - they arose with the growth of democracy and representative government - further impotence with responsible government (those running and executing the laws must remain the confidence of the populace) - Centuries ago, representatives were appointed, regardless of public opinion Common view with political parties in western society (especially in Canada) is to see them as brokers; mediating conflict among competing groups - to be successful in Canada, some say, parties must be brokerage parties - elected by appealing to a broad cross-section of Canadian opinions Brokerage parties aggregate a wide variety of people into voting coalitions (this is good!) Parties have many functions - link people to the government and state - also structure voting and organize electoral choice; determine and define what issues are important - recruit candidates and leaders; education function (policy issues and choices made available to the public); transmission belts between public opinion and making public policy - 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? Three Generalizations 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 secular -party policy is less based on fundamental values as social issues - even fundamental political issues, such as capitalism vs. communism are now irrelevant Partisan dealignment: fewer people now identify with a party - education levels are increasing, people are more intelligent and thing more critically - class differences are not as salient as they were many years ago - parties have moved towards the ideological centre, so parties are vying for the same votes (more or less); parties pitch predominantly in and around the middle class Canadian parties were never as polarized as in Europe - even now it is hard to give an ideological label to a party - Liberals = fiscal conservatives in the 90s, now it is the Conservatives Another reason: rise of post-materialist values - consumer groups, environmental groups, morality issues (sexuality, abortion, drugs) - can/are these issues placed on the ideological spectrum? - has mass media eroded the role of party workers? Door-to-door politics has been replaced by television, internet and the radio - parties are more capital intensive, less labour intensive /08884.L,O.,5L9,OL394/,\884.L09\!045O0.,3,;4L/54OL9L.8 - in the past, most programs on television were political - people can now live through an election without knowing it took place - news does not have to be read or watched Interest groups have grown - contributes to the decline of the party, as they have taken on the role of lobbying the public, which parties used to do Rise of think-tanks - many more policy institutes that fill in the skeleton manifestos of parties More of a push for direct democracy Lecture 2 (Sept 20 7LJL3841,3,/,8!,79L08,3/9K0!,79\$\8902 Turnitin Information CLASS ID: 3502150 PASS: parties TA: Evan ([email protected]) New proposal would expand the House of Commons - benefitting AL, ON, BC, but not QUE (Whose population has not grown) Helena Guergis is not able to contest the candidates for her now vacant seat
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