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Political parties, lecture 1 of 3

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1 Political parties, lecture 1 of 3
Definitions. Party systems Lecture 2: Party models. Catch-all, cartel, etc. Lecture 3: Party organisations. Membership, internal democracy

2 Definitions of parties
Edmund Burke: "A body of men (sic) united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed“ Alan Ware (p. 5): “…an institution that (a) seeks influence in a state by attempting to occupy positions in government and (b) usually consists of more than a single interest in society and so to some extent attempts to aggregate interests“ Giovanni Sartori: "Any political group identified by an official label that presents at elections, and is capable of placing through elections, candidates for election to public office”

3 Party systems A party system is the range of political parties in a given political system. Usually, but not necessarily, a country. A party system is characterised by: The number of (relevant) parties The political and ideological nature of these parties How they interact and compete with each other

4 The study of party systems is…
…more or less synonymous with Italian political scientist Giovanni Sartori His book “Parties and Party Systems” from 1976 is a classic and will remain so for generations to come Even though not everybody agrees with everything said by Sartori, his analytical framework will continue to dominate our thinking about party systems for generations to come

5 Ware identifies… …four main variables in the classification of party systems: The extent to which parties penetrate society; The ideologies of the parties; The stance of the parties towards the legitimacy of the regime; The number of parties in the system

6 Parties’ penetration of society
The ties between voters and parties, such as: Party identification Party membership The links between parties and civil society The relevance of parties to the lives of citizens Lack of penetration can lead to greater instability and voter volatility Hence can make it easier for new parties to break through

7 Ideologies of parties Parties are often divided into families
These families can be based on different criteria, but the most favoured criterion is ideology Klaus von Beyme (1985) identifies nine party families: Liberal/Radical, Socialist/ Labour; Conservative; Communist; Christian Democratic; Agrarian; Regional/ethnic; Extreme Right; Ecologist The character of a party system depends to a great extent on its ideological composition

8 Parties’ stance towards regime
Are there any anti-system parties? If so, how many and how big? Anti-system parties can be extreme left, extreme right, regionalist/separatist, ethnic, religious, et c. Anti-system parties are sometimes, but by no means always, violent or revolutionary

9 The number of parties When classifying party systems, only relevant parties are counted The relevance of a party depends on: Its government, or coalition, potential: At least sometimes, the party must be needed, on its own or with others, to form a government Its blackmail potential: The party’s existence affects the behaviour of, and competition between, the parties under a)

10 It is the last… …of the four criteria, i.e. the number of relevant parties that is the most commonly used and discussed. In Britain, for example, much of the debate has been about whether the party system is two-party or not, and comparisons have been made with more clear-cut multiparty systems Indeed, the numerical criterion is central in Sartori’s approach

11 Main types of party systems:
(One-party and hegemonic party systems) Predominant party systems: The same party always in government; no other party has a realistic chance Two-party systems: Two parties share, or alternate in, power Multi-party systems: More than two relevant parties: Limited multipartism (3-5 parties) Extreme multipartism (>5 parties) Atomized systems (very extreme multipartism)

12 Two approaches when… …classifying party systems according to number parties: Not taking size of parties into account: Predominant party, two-party, 3-5 party >5 party systems Taking size of parties into account: Predominant party, two-party, two-and-a-half-party, 1 big and several smaller parties; 2 big and several smaller parties; several small parties of roughly even size

13 Sartori’s classification of party systems has…
…two main dimensions: The number of parties, called fragmentation. The more parties, the more fragmented the party system (Sartori here takes number as well as size into account) The ideological distance between the parties, called polarisation. The further apart the parties are, the more polarised the system (Sartori focuses heavily on the traditional socio-economic left-right dimension)

14 Party competition in… …in polarised systems, competition is driven by centrifugal forces, where parties are driven further apart In systems with smaller ideological distance between parties, party competition is driven by centripetal forces, where parties are driven closer together

15 Fragmentation and polarisation…
…are two dimensions that give party systems their character They can be combined into a graph (see Ware p. 169)… …with fragmentation along one axis… …and polarisation along the other axis

16 Graph, from Ware (p. 169): Low Centripetal competition Fragmentation
Centrifugal competition High Low High Polarisation

17 Examples Low fragmentation, low polarisation:
Two-partism. GB? High fragmentation, high polarisation: Polarised multipartism. Belgium? Chile 70s? High fragmentation, low polarisation: Segmented multipartism. Few clear examples Low fragmentation, high polarisation: Unusual. Exceptions: NZ pre 1995? Britain 1970s, 80s?

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