Presentation on theme: "Objective Assess the reasons for the two-party system in the U.S., and decide whether there should be reforms fostering 3 rd parties. Assess various electoral."— Presentation transcript:
Objective Assess the reasons for the two-party system in the U.S., and decide whether there should be reforms fostering 3 rd parties. Assess various electoral and party systems, and draw conclusions about which system you would prefer based on their advantages and disadvantages.
Functions of Minor Parties QUESTION: What 3 rd party examples can you think of? Critic & Watchdog Innovator –Introduce & support new ideas –take stand on controversial issues “Spoiler” role - pull votes away from a major party But very few 3 rd party officeholders compared to many other industrialized democracies
Why do we have a two-party system in the U.S.? “Two-Party system” History Campaign Finance Laws Media Coverage (e.g. Presidential Debates) Election laws: Ballot Access Closed Primaries (must register as D or R) vs. Open Primaries Group Discussion: Propose Reforms or Defend system? Plurality Electoral System –Single-Member Districts –Plurality elections = Winner Takes All
Plurality Electoral Systems Examples are based on Legislative Elections: Single-Member Districts for Congress: –One candidate elected per district –Plurality Districts (= “winner takes all”): –the person with most votes wins / majority not needed –Hypothetical Example: Candidate A (Gerlach)34% Candidate B(Murphy) 33% Candidate C(Green Party)33%
Plurality Electoral Systems Used by Britain and U.S. Impact: –Party can win strong majority in Legislative branch without winning majority of popular vote EXAMPLE: 2001 Elections Labour 41% vote63% seats Conserv 32% vote25% seats Lib Dem 18% vote8% seats Britain
Impacts: Plurality System Favors single-party or two-party government Favors large, moderate, catch-all parties Squeezes out small third parties Disadvantages: –Votes are “wasted” (e.g. 66% wasted in example) –Decreases competition Advantages: –More stability in govt. –More efficiency in govt.
Majoritarian Electoral System Single-Member Districts Simple-Majority Districts: –Candidate must receive > 50% to win. If not, runoff between 2 frontrunners. France
Impacts: Majoritarian System More friendly to 3 rd parties than Plurality System, because: –Many minor parties in first round –Protest or ideological votes in 1st round –Coalitions formed in 2nd round –Results in 2 coalitions / “party families” Advantages –fewer votes wasted (Candidates all elected by majority) –Political Competition (= quality? Accountability?) –Fosters compromise among parties? –Greater legitimacy for elected officials Disadvantages –Possibility of crazy results? (e.g. Le Pen and National Front) –Expense of running two elections
Proportional Electoral System % of votes for party roughly = % of seats in legislature Multiple-Member Districts: Each district elects several members to legislature 2001 Britain Example (IF a proportional system): Labour would have 41% Conservatives 32% Lib Dems 18% No clear majority in Parliament would be coalition government Germany Ireland
Impacts: Proportional System Fosters participation of 3rd parties Coalition Governments Advantages: –Broader, more diverse representation of public –Political Competition (= quality? Accountability?) –Meaningful choice among candidates –Fewer wasted votes Disadvantages: –Coalition governments less stable (e.g. Italy, Israel) –less efficient? (harder to pass legislation) –Nominations dominated by party lists?
Group Discussion 1) Decide which electoral system you prefer –Take into account many factors (i.e. which system(s) foster compromise, democratic representation, efficiency, stability, competition, 3 rd party participation, which system wastes fewer votes, and any other factors important to you). 2) Should we make other reforms to foster 3 rd party competition (i.e. media, ballot access, campaign finance)? 3) Try to arrive at a group consensus (if not, take a vote). Choose one person to report back on your group’s decisions and disagreements.
Optional DISCUSSION Plurality, Majoritarian & Proportional Systems 1.Which system most accurately represents the views of all its citizens? 2.Which system is most democratic? Why? 3.Which system fosters the most stability and efficiency in government? Why? 4.Which electoral system do you prefer? Why?