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Unit 5: What Do Parties Want?

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Presentation on theme: "Unit 5: What Do Parties Want?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Unit 5: What Do Parties Want?
Reading: Mueller and Strom pgs. 1-27

2 Guiding Questions What is party government? What do parties want?
What are vote seeking goals? Office seeking? Policy seeking? Can parties maximize all three goals?

3 Political Parties and Government
Political science suggests that political parties a central role in promoting and maintaining democracy. Schattschneider 1942 “modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of political parties” Muller and Strom 1999 In a democracy, voters delegate policy-making authority to representatives via political parties.

4 What Is Party Government?
We can conceive of democracy as “party government” Katz 1986; Katz 1987 1) Parties organize policy-making Government decisions made by party leaders. Government policy decided within political parties. Parties act cohesively to enact policy. 2) Parties serve as intermediaries between voters and government. Elections seen as mechanisms to ensure party accountability. 3) Parties recruit political leadership. Most elected officials are affiliated with a party.

5 What Do Parties Seek? Mueller and Strom 1999
Three strategies are typically offered. Parties as: 1) Office-seekers 2) Policy-seekers 3) Vote-seekers. These are ideal type strategies. Most parties seek more than one end.

6 Factors Shaping Party Options
Mueller and Strom 1999 Party behavior is shaped by a variety of factors: 1) Party leadership and organization Motivations of the leadership (political entrepreneurs) Relationship between leadership and party activists 2) Political institutional structures Electoral/legislative laws Laws governing coalition formation 3) Political context General elections/economic circumstances Number of parties at the bargaining table

7 Office Seeking Models Riker 1962
Parties seek to maximize their control over the benefits associated with taking office. Benefits include: cabinet portfolios, political appointments, etc. Parties share power only when necessary. Votes and policy viewed as instrumental to obtaining office (i.e. a means to an end), not as intrinsically valuable.

8 Policy Seeking Models De Swaan 1973
Parties seek to maximize their impact on policy. Political parties have policy platforms that they seek to enact once in office. When parties coalesce, they will do so with parties that have similar policy outlooks. Policy can be considered as intrinsically valuable or as instrumental to other goals (e.g. office).

9 Vote Seeking Models Downs 1957
Parties seek to maximize their vote share. Parties use policy manifestoes to win votes, not for policy ends per se. Parties maximize votes even when they are assured of a majority. Votes are instrumental and not intrinsically valuable in and of themselves.

10 Election 2005: Merkel’s Dilemma
Majority = 308 No party could govern alone. Schroeder and Merkel both made claims on the chancellorship. Merkel was given first crack at forming a coalition. Her party held the most seats.

11 Election 2005: Merkel’s Dilemma
Merkel’s preferred policy coalition (yellow-black): FDP/CDU/CSU = 287 seats 21 short. Schroeder’s preferred policy coalition (red-green): SPD/B90GR = 273 35 short. PDS/Left was not an option. Both sides needed to woo another party. Attention turned to the B90Gr and FDP.

12 Election 2005: Merkel’s Dilemma
From an office seeking standpoint, adding B90/Gr (i.e. a “Jamaica coalition”) would give Merkel 338 seats. Rejected by the Green party on policy grounds. Adding the FDP to the SPD/B90/Gr (i.e. traffic light coalition) would give Schroeder 334 seats. But this was rejected by the FDP on policy grounds.

13 Election 2005: Merkel’s Dilemma
Polls showed Germans did not want another election. Merkel agrees to form a grand coalition with the SPD. Coalition was strained by: 1) conservative social policy advocated by the CSU 2) center left economic policy favored by the SPD 3) desire for economic reform by members of the CDU. SPD entered 2009 elections pushing for a return of the grand coalition. CDU wanted to end it.

14 Election 2009: The Aftermath
Left G/B SPD FDP CDU CSU-45 CDU vote declined slightly Being in government can sometimes come at an electoral cost. Voters punished the SPD Worst performance in the postwar era Voters rewarded the FDP, the Greens, and the Left All opposition parties fared well. Government formed by the CDU/CSU and the FDP. Merkel was seeking a yellow-black coalition rather than another grand coalition

15 Conclusions: Party Goals
Goals are not mutually exclusive. Parties may attempt to maximize one (e.g. votes) to obtain another (e.g. policy or office). But parties must also make tradeoffs. Pursuing one type of goal can hinder the attainment of other goals. Office seeking strategies may risk a rebellion amongst party activists. Policy seeking strategies may please activists but harm a party’s ability to win votes within the larger electorate. Vote seeking strategies may impinge on a party’s policy- seeking goals if they water them down to appeal to the larger electorate.

16 Next Unit Theme: Parties and Votes Game: Elections Reading: Ware CH 11
Mueller and Strom pgs Game: Elections

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