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PARTIES AND DEMOCRACY What difference do parties and party systems make?

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Presentation on theme: "PARTIES AND DEMOCRACY What difference do parties and party systems make?"— Presentation transcript:

1 PARTIES AND DEMOCRACY What difference do parties and party systems make?

2 Party system: Refers to the ways in which political parties in a given political system interact with each other Assumption of systemness: –Regular and recurring interactions –The ways in which parties behave – e.g. the strategies and tactics they use-- is influenced by the system of which they are a part

3 Problem: What difference do party systems make? What difference does the number of parties make? What difference does the kind of parties in a system make? What difference does the degree of polarization make?

4 The number of parties Is it possible to have too many parties? –Probably, but how many is too many? Is it possible to have too few parties? –How so? –How many are too few?

5 Standard argument: multiparty systems are inherently unstable But, what does this mean? that liberal democracies with multi-party politics are more likely to collapse? OR that cabinets in parliamentary democracies with multiparty systems are shakier –thus less stable, –and therefore shorter-lived than cabinets in two party systems?

6 Evidence: Most parliamentary democracies have multiparty politics Cabinets in some multiparty systems last longer than cabinets in two party systems, but others do not Less stable cabinets typically found in countries with a large number of parties But, few of these liberal democracies are unstable

7 Possible Conclusions: Need to distinguish between moderate and extended (extreme) multipartyism Need to consider degree to which party system is institutionalized or entrenched Need to consider whether there are other mechanisms which provide for, or reinforce, political stability, for example…

8 Moderate v. extended multipartyism Moderate Germany Norway Sweden Austria Greece Hungary Extended Italy Netherlands Belgium Denmark Israel Poland

9 Institutionalization or entrenchment Entrenched Netherlands Sweden Denmark Norway Germany Hungary UK Most liberal democracies Weakly entrenched France Poland Ukraine Russia Many other transitional or illiberal democracies

10 Other sources of stability: an underlying sense of legitimacy Norms and procedures which help politicians cope with mutlipartyism power-sharing arrangements which help to overcome divisions in deeply divided societies e.g. consociational democracies: –Austria after World War II, –Belgium –Netherlands from s –Northern Ireland today

11 Also useful to distinguish among: adversarial or Westminster democracies, characterized by clash between govt and opposition (UK, Canada...) consensus (or consensus-seeking) democracies, characterized by inter-party cooperation, power-sharing arrangements: Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland

12 Some further questions: Schattschneiders dictum: without parties, no democracy Is it possible to have democracy without political parties? –Why or why not? Is it possible to have democracy with political parties?


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