Significance / Importance of Political Parties
In modern Indirect Democracies,
Political parties function as organized and constitutionally recognized groups
that “compete” for political power.
In dictatorships and oneparty rule
Political party in power monopolizes political power and gives the power an organized,
Ideally , in democracies, political parties present alternatives to the voters
In parliamentary systems, political parties play a central role in governing, as members
of a party or coalition forms the “executive” wing of the government
Declining memberships of political parties and rising activism through interest groups
and social movements
What is the link of this phenomenon with emergence of “postmaterialist values”
in a country?
After all, why did NDP and the Greens emerge in mid or late 20 Century while
the emergence of Liberals and the Conservatives can be traced back to the 19 Century?
What has changed in terms of values in these two centuries?
Origins and Development of Political Parties
Cadre and Mass Parties
(a) Cadre Parties
Formed within already existing legislature members. Thus, historically
concerned with the task of getting members of the party elected to legislatures – an
(b) Mass Party
More “socialist or labor” oriented rhetoric. Mass based, extra parliamentary
membership and organizational structure.
Can all of this be linked to historical development of the “industrial
Major modern political parties are usually classified as being both:
while, specificinterestsbased parties have also surfaced:
Like those representing – farmers, linguistic, religious, ethnicity based
parties, environmental / green parties, right wing conservative parties etc.
Types of party systems
1. Two – party system
2. TwoPlus party system
3. Multiparty system
4. One party Dominance system
(1) Two – party system
Two major parties that contend to control govt. Other parties are not significant.
- System offers stable govt. but may not represent minority views properly - Classic Example: the United States
- Choice between CocaCola and Pepsi!!!
(2) Two – plus party system
Two significant plus other smaller parties
Other parties can be national or regional
UK good examples of this system
Canada was a two party political system, but NDP has now come to power, so
Canada is now a multiparty system. But, it has been categorized as a two+ party
system, and also a oneparty dominant system.
We have talked about the two party system in the USA, there are other parties, but
they are so insignificant that it doesn't matter. The advantage here, despite the
govt shutdown, it does offer a stable govt in the sense that the political party that
comes to power, b/c its only one of the two that are poilitical parties that are
significant ▯it stays in power
If you think about democracy as offering different choices for the water, its
basically a choice of choosing 2 bad drinks; either you choose Demo/
Republicans; if the system changes, it remains a rigid 2 party system. In a 2+
party system, the marketing of these “drinks,” but there’s variations. There are 2
significant parties but the system is not a rigid 2 party system, other smaller/
insignificant alternatives can grow (NDP, Bloc). Other parties can be regional/
national. Wild Rose, Block Quebecois. Green party is an example of a small
group, but may be able to grow. Canada has been a 2+, but not good anymore.
(3) MultiParty system
Several significant parties
Typically involves coalition governments
Pre and Post election alliances are made
Multitude of groups and views are represented and politics takes form of
bargaining among groups – Pluralism in politics
Coalition governments can be very unstable which causes frequent changes in the
Multiparty has coalition govt, inherently unstable; Italy is a multiparty system,
stability and lack thereof means..
In 50 years of WW2, why Douglas Kony is so famous in Italian politics is
b/c he is the first Italian PM to finish a full 5 year term after the WW2.
First time. Why did that happen? Part of the reason is b/c it's a vibrant two
party systems, there are no coalition, so there’s no instability.
Canada is a multiparty system. Canada is not as vibrant of a multiparty system
as others are; there are so many political parties so many coalitions made ▯
Canada doesn't have this
USA treats coalition as bad; often formed in Europe ▯after government is elected,
coalitions collapse. Coalitions are bad b/c they often fall quickly ▯sometimes
unimaginable coalitions attract really well, the best example is current
government of the UK, coalition b/w conservatives and libral democrats ▯that means, a coalition of conservatives and NDP, Stephen Harper + Thomas Mulcair ▯
it’s a joke! But it’s actually happened in the UK. There is a liberal democratic
minister in the exec. They have a single goal to keep labour out of power. UK has
negotiated a union of Christian Democrats + Liberal Democrats + Conservatives.
Canadians bought into the idea that Conservatives are better than coalitions;
described as bad b/c although Canada is a multiparty system, Canadians still take
it as a 2 party system. We may say coalitions pre/post election alliances;
distribution is a minority government, so join up together to make a majority.
Multiparty systems are more democratic, maybe not more efficient, a variety of
groups + views are represented, politics becomes a game of bargaining b/w
USA may have pluralism in its politics; every democrat is responding to demands
from riding ▯a democrat politicians from Arizona or New Mexico will be with the
Republicans in immigration law; New England States likely to be with Democrat;
Mitt Romney went to the extent of saying that Russia is the biggest geopolitical
threat to USA.
Every state has its own character, very pluralist, US may be one country,
there are various different regions defined as countries living within this
broader USA; parts of USA in terms of political identification are closer to
Canada than other parts.
Two party system does not make its actual politics as polarized as it could
have become. If a two party system is in another country, it may not
succeed. The problem with multiparty systems & coalition government
(4) One – party dominance system
Single party rules for a long period of time – Japan after the Second World War
This is different from One party dictatorships however, like Saddam Hussein’s
Iraq – ruled by Baa’th Party or China or Uganda – in such systems all other
political parties are BANNED, by law.
One party dominant system is not the same as oneparty authoritarian
state. China is OPAS ▯other political parties are legally not allowed to
exist. The only legal political party in China is the communist party, any
other group in China that has a presence is a challenge to the communist
party of Canada.
Alberta ▯is the provincial example of oneparty dominance, progressive
Conservatives have been in power for too many years; not oneparty authoritarian,
just dominance. There are many nondemocratic factors of Canadian d