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EXPLAINING PARTY SYSTEMS I Reading: Sartori. Guiding Questions  What are party systems?  How do we characterize/explain party systems?  Why do we study.

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Presentation on theme: "EXPLAINING PARTY SYSTEMS I Reading: Sartori. Guiding Questions  What are party systems?  How do we characterize/explain party systems?  Why do we study."— Presentation transcript:

1 EXPLAINING PARTY SYSTEMS I Reading: Sartori

2 Guiding Questions  What are party systems?  How do we characterize/explain party systems?  Why do we study party systems?  Which variables do competition theories privilege?  How do we evaluate competition theories of party systems?

3 Party Systems Defined  Ware 1996  Units: political parties  Systems: “patterns of competition and co-operation between the different parties [within a given] system”

4 Why Do We Care?  It was believed that the number of parties within a system exerted a large influence on party behavior.  Two party systems promote moderation.  Also argued that democratic stability was predicated on the number of parties within a system.  Examples: French Third and Fourth Republics, Italian First Republic, Weimar Germany.  But the number of political parties within the system only tells us part of the story.  These cases also had other factors which promoted instability.  Multiparty systems are not necessarily less moderate than two party systems.  Two party systems are not necessarily more moderate than multiparty systems.

5 Why Do We Care?  Understanding the party system gives us a basic understanding of the political system.  An “entry level” discussion of a political system.  Knowing the number (and types) of parties present within a system provides a basis for analysis and comparison with other systems.  Are there anti-system parties?  How polarized is the political system?  Understanding party systems helps us to identify whether or not broad political change is occurring.  Are the “old guard” parties holding their own?  Are new movements eclipsing the older parties?

6 What Shapes Party Systems?  DV: Party systems  Competition theories (e.g. Sartori 1976)  IV: patterns of political competition  Sociological theories (e.g. Lipset and Rokkan 1967)  IV: social divisions/cleavage patterns  Institutional theories (e.g. Duverger 1951; 1954).  IV: electoral systems; number of parties

7 Competition Theories: Fragmentation  Sartori 1976  Number of parties (fragmentation) shapes complexity of the system.  But this begs the question: Which parties should be counted?  Parties are relevant if they possess: Coalition potential Blackmail potential

8 Competition: Polarization  Sartori 1976  Fragmentation only tells us part of the story.  Ideological spread of relevant parties (polarization) also matters.  Classifies party systems on the basis of fragmentation (number of parties) and polarization (ideological spread and intensity).  Identifies seven categories. Known for discussion of moderate vs. polarized pluralism

9 Multiparty Systems: Polarized Pluralism  Sartori 1976  Fragmentation:  Five to six relevant political parties.  Polarization:  Center of spectrum is occupied.  Relevant anti-system parties exist. Bilateral oppositions force coalitions of the center.  Patterns of competition:  Centrifugal  Polarization creates center fleeing effects.  Consequences for the party system:  Ideological patterning, irresponsible oppositions, and a politics of outbidding.  Example: Weimar Republic; Italian First Republic

10 Multiparty Systems: Moderate Pluralism  Sartori 1976  Fragmentation:  3-5 parties exist  Polarization:  Center of spectrum is not occupied.  No anti-system parties or bilateral oppositions  Patterns of Competition:  Centripetal  Lack of polarization creates center seeking effects.  Consequences for the party system:  Bipolar coalition structure; alternation in government occurs.  Example: Italian Second Republic, Germany, amongst others.

11 Two Party Systems  Sartori 1976  Fragmentation:  Two parties  Polarization:  No anti system parties  Pattern of competition:  Two parties can conceivably win a majority of the seats.  One of the two parties always win a parliamentary majority.  Consequences for the party competition  Majority party is willing to govern alone.  Alternation of government is expected or possible  Example: United Kingdom (2.5 parties)

12 Evaluating Sartori  Useful in terms of determining relevant political parties.  Appear to be links between the number of political parties within a system and its polarization.  Pattern of competition does appear to shape coalition formation.  Classification lumps most systems into the moderate pluralist category.  Although if we relax the assumption about anti system parties, this changes  Extreme parties, whether or not anti- system, may create centrifugal tendencies.  Far right parties not “anti- system” but they do shift patterns of competition  Appeals in two party systems are not always moderate. STRENGTHSWEAKNESSES

13 Sociological and Institutional Rejoinders  Sartori hints at aspects of society that foster moderate politics.  Boosts sociological explanations.  Discussion glosses over how institutions frame competition within the system.  If institutions frame competition this suggests that institutional explanations are relevant. Is competition epiphenomenal?

14 Next Unit  Theme: Explaining Party Systems II  Readings: Lijphart and , Lipset and Rokkan, Duverger, Cox PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO: 1) Cleavage patterns and party systems. 2) Critical junctures and issue dimensions. 3) Relationships between electoral systems and party systems.


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