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Political Parties What is a Political Party? o A political party might be formally defined as a group of political activists who organize to win elections, to operate the government, and to determine public policy. Political parties differ from interest groups in that interest groups do not want to operate government and they do not put forth political candidates, they support candidates who will promote their interests if elected or reelected. Interest groups tend to sharpen issues, whereas political parties tend to blur their issue positions to attract voters. Political parties differ from factions, which are smaller groups that are trying to obtain certain benefits for themselves. Factions are subgroups within parties that may try to capture a nomination or get a position adopted by the party. The key difference between factions and parties is that factions do not have a permanent organization, whereas political parties do. A multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition, e.g.The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the United Kingdom formed in 2010. The effective number of parties in a multiparty system is normally larger than two but lower than ten. It is a system where there are large amounts of major and minor political parties that all hold a serious chance of receiving office, and because they all compete, a majority may not come to be, forcing the creation of a coalition. Unlike a single-party system (or a two-party system), it encourages the general constituency to form multiple distinct, officially recognized groups, generally called political parties. Each party competes for votes from the enfranchised constituents (those allowed to vote). A multi-party system prevents the leadership of a single party from controlling a single legislative chamber without challenge. If the government includes an elected Congress or Parliament the parties may share power according to proportional representation or the first-past-the-post system. In proportional representation, each party wins a number of seats proportional to the number of votes it receives. In first-past-the-post, the electorate is divided into a number of districts, each of which selects one person to fill one seat by a plurality of the vote. First-past-the-post is not conducive to a proliferation of parties, and naturally gravitates toward a two-party system, in which only two parties have a real chance of electing their candidates to office. This gravitation is known as Duverger's law. Proportional representation, on the other hand, does not have this tendency, and allows multiple major parties to arise. A two-party system requires voters to align themselves in large blocs, sometimes so large that they cannot agree on any overarching principles. Along this line of thought, some theories argue that this allows centrists to gain control. On the other hand, if there are multiple major parties, each with less than a majority of the vote, the parties are strongly motivated to work together to form working governments. This also promotes centrism, as well as promoting coalition-building skills while discouraging polarization.
Ireland. Sweden. far more offices would be uncontested. Italy. New Zealand. Typically. the MANGAMPAT . Mexico. Canada. the opposition party forces debate on the policy alternatives. o Accepting responsibility for operating the government – staffing the executive branch with loyal party supporters and developing linkages among the elected officials to gain support for policies and their implementation. 2 Functions of Political Parties in the United States o Recruiting candidates for public office – if parties did not search out and encourage political hopefuls. Japan. Israel. Germany. A Short History of Political Parties in the United States (6 periods) o The creation of parties. The Federalists – pushed for adoption of the Constitution The Anti-Federalists – were against ratification In George Washington’s farewell address he made a somber assessment of the nation’s future. and work to increase participation. multiple political parties form coalitions for the purpose of developing power blocs for governing. In these countries. or personal politics. o Presenting alternative policies for operating the government – parties are focused on a set of political positions. Indonesia. Finland. usually no single party has a parliamentary majority by itself. and voters would have limited choices. Spain.Reviewer in Political Parties Brazil.” He viewed parties as a threat to both national unity and the concept of popular government. one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election. Pakistan. from 1789-1812 The first partisan political division in the United States occurred prior to the adoption of the Constitution. Because there was no real political opposition to the dominant Democratic Republicans and thus little political debate . He felt that the country might be destroyed by the “baneful effects of the spirit of the party. o The era of one-party rule. provide most of the campaign activity to stimulate interest in the election. o Organizing and running elections – organize voter registration drives. recruit volunteers to work at the polls. India. Portugal. Norway. the Netherlands. A single-party state. except as transitory issue oriented currents within the single party or permanent coalition as a self evident good. Instead. from 1816-1824 Attention centered on the character of individual candidates rather than on party identification. single-party states hold the suppression of political factions. Denmark. o Acting as the organized opposition to the party in power – by organizing the opposition to the “in” party. Sometimes the term de facto single-party state is used to describe a dominant-party system where laws or practices prevent the opposition from legally getting power. and Taiwan are examples of nations that have used a multi-party system effectively in their democracies.
The impact of his successive Democratic administrations and the New Deal that he crafted is still with us today. the Whig Party (Adams) and the Democratic Party (Clay) to oppose Jackson in the 1824 and 1828 elections. Republicans dominated until 1932 when Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat)was elected The modern period. The progressive period. from 1896-1928 In 1912. from 1932-present Franklin Roosevelt was elected in 1932. Roosevelt used his enormous personal appeal to unify Democrats under his leadership.” 1952-1960 the Republicans were in control once more 1960-1968 the Democrats were in control 1968-1976 the Republicans were in control 1976-1980 the Democrats were in control 1980-1992 the Republicans were in control 3 o o o o MANGAMPAT . William Howard Taft (Republican) and Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive). The Republican split allowed Wilson to win the presidency. ended up enacting much of the Progressive Party’s platform. That same Democratic Party is now the oldest continuing political party in the Western world. and 1944.” After the end of the Civil War. 1940. from 1864-1892 The newly formed Republican Party’s (created from various groups that sought to fill the vacuum left by the disintegration of the Whigs) candidate was elected: Abraham Lincoln.Reviewer in Political Parties administration of James Monroe (1817-1825) came to be known as the era of good feelings. the South became heavily Democratic (the Solid South) and the North became heavily Republicans. The period from Andrew Jackson’s presidency to just prior to the Civil War. There were three significant candidates: Woodrow Wilson (Democrat). During the 1850s. It took the label of “Grand Old Party or GOP. The post Civil War period. The Whigs were often called the “National Republicans. Left without any reason for opposition.” o The Whig party became divided over the issue of slavery in the late 1840s. the Progressive Party collapsed in 1921. The Republicans’ control was solidified by winning over the urban working-class vote in northern cities. and he established direct communication between the President and the public through his radio “fireside chats. from 1828-1860 Factions of Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams within the Democratic Republicans split and formed their own parties. the Whigs fell apart as a national party. a major schism (factional division) occurred in the Republican Party when former Republican president Theodore Roosevelt campaigned for the presidency as a Progressive. This was an era of Republican dominance. and reelected in 1936. The Wilson administration although Democratic.
The pyramid. does not accurately reflect the relative power and strengths of the individual parts of the party organization. Although there are linkages between the layers. 4 The Three Faces of a Party o Party-in-the-electorate – this phase refers to all those individuals who claim an attachment to the political party. o In reality. No one level of the party has real control over any other level. state. and national executives o National staff members If the party-in-the-electorate declines in numbers and loyalty. from local to national. nominations. It is the large number of Americans who feel some loyalty to the party or who use partisanship as a cue to decide who will earn their vote. o Party-in-government – includes those who are elected and appointed officials who identify with a political party. Each “layer” of an American political party is representative of a level of government. and organizing caucuses. Bush in 1988 may have signaled the beginning of a true era of divided government (one party controls the presidency and the other controls Congress).Reviewer in Political Parties The election of George H. and election campaigns for its candidates. the formal structure of the political parties resembles a layer cake with autonomous (independent) strata more than it does a pyramid. identifying potential candidates. the party organization must try to find a strategy to rebuild the grassroots following. MANGAMPAT . Tiers to a political party are essential to the functioning of government and the operation of the political process in the United States. o Party Organization – provides the structural framework for the political party by recruiting volunteers to become party leaders. If the party organization and the party-in-government are in conflict.W. When individuals accept paid employment for a political party. It is the party organization and its active workers that keeps the party functioning between elections. as well as make sure that the party puts forth electable candidates and clear positions in the elections. each of the American political parties has a standard. Party Organization o In theory. however. pyramid-shaped organization. supporters. they are considered party professionals: o Campaign consultants o Fundraisers o Local. the party-in-the-electorate is likely to look for other party leadership to articulate its preferences. each is fairly independent of the others in terms of financing. and platform. conventions.
Each party picks a national chairperson. One of its jobs is to ratify the presidential nominee’s choice of a national chairperson. ratified. obtain financial contributions.Reviewer in Political Parties National Chairperson and National Committee National Convention and Delegates 5 State Chairperson and State Committee County Chairperson and County Committee Ward or Township Chairperson and Ward or Township Committee Precinct Chairperson and Precinct Committee o The National Party Organization – each party has a national organization. elected by the individual state parties. The most institutional part of which is the national convention: National convention is held every 4 years. however. and revised at the national convention. the national chairperson and national committee simply plan the next campaign and the next convention. In general. It is used to nominate the presidential and vice presidential candidates. National Committee is established to direct and coordinate party activities during the following four years. MANGAMPAT . In addition. Basically. the party’s presidential candidate chooses the national chairperson (if that candidate loses. the chairperson is often changed). the party platform (the party’s position on issues) is written. and publicize the national party. Each of the parties formally chooses a national standing committee (national committee). who in principle acts as the spokesperson for the party.
The national chairperson. precinct or ward captains. and an equal number of party organizations for each major party. For immigrants and the poor. and party workers. has the responsibility for carrying out the policy decisions of the party’s state convention. City machines are now dead. The State Party Organization – there are 50 states in the union. and appear I the media as the party spokesperson. Local political organizations still can contribute a great deal to local election campaigns. because political involvement at the local level offers activities many opportunities to gain experience. which can be crucial in local elections. Each state party has a chairperson. both in the characteristics of their members and in their platforms. or counties. Like the national committee. and in some states the state committees wil direct the state chairperson with respect to policymaking. plus territories and the District of Columbia. the state central committee has control over the use of campaign funds during political campaigns. 6 o o The Party and Its Members – there are significant differences between the parties. the institution of patronage held the local organization together. This trend began in the 1930s as the result of New Deal legislation. State parties are also important in national politics because of the unit rule. At the end of the 19th century. mostly because their function of providing social services (and reaping the reward of votes) has been taken over by state and national agencies.Reviewer in Political Parties Major responsibility of the chairperson is the management of the national election campaign. which awards electoral votes in presidential elections as an indivisible bloc (except in Maine and Nebraska). the political machine often furnished important services and protections. raise campaign funds and distribute them to state parties and to candidates. along with the national committee. state legislative districts. Local party organizations are also important vehicles for recruiting young adults into political work. Much of the work is coordinated by county committees and their chairpersons. MANGAMPAT . These organizations are able to provide the foot soldiers of politics – individuals who pass out literature ad get out the vote on Election Day. Chairperson establishes a national headquarters. Local Party Machinery: The Grassroots – the lowest of the party machinery is the local organizations supported by district leaders. and a number of local organizations State central committee is usually composed of those members who represent congressional districts. attempts basically to maintain some sort of liaison among the different levels of the party organization. a committee.
the working class. to support government regulation of business. the political party furnishes the pool of qualified applicants for political appointments to run the government. All of these party appointments suggest that the wining political party. Democrats – since the New Deal. the focus of party activity shifts from getting out the vote to organizing and controlling the government. and manufacturers. Why Do We Have A Two-Party System? o The historical foundations of the system – the first two opposing groups in U.S. and many feel that the federal government should be involved in fewer social programs (see chart on page 290). state. In general. with the Federalists dominant in the North and the Democratic Republicans dominant in the South. Federalists represented those with commercial interests including merchants. to approve of measures to improve the situation of minorities. the Democratic Party has appealed to the more disadvantage groups in society. Jewish voters. Civil War to the 1920s has been called one of sectional politics – North versus South. upperincome families. African Americans.Reviewer in Political Parties o Differences between the parties – although Democrats and Republicans are not divided along religious or class lines to the extent than some European parties are. and to support assistance to the elderly with their medical expenses. The split was ideological (over the issue of MANGAMPAT . Republicans are more supportive of the private marketplace. These interests were also fairly well split along geographic lines. Most Americans prefer a divided government. with the executive and legislative branches controlled by different parties (like checks and balances). Anti-Federalists (later became the Democratic Republicans) represented artisans and farmers. For the President. The Federalists supported the principle of a strong national government. Minorities. or local level. More women than men tend to identify themselves as Democrats. with partisanship determining everything from office space to committee assignments and power on Capitol Hill. o Party membership plays an important role in the day-to-day operations of Congress. Democratic identifiers are more likely to approve of social welfare spending. certain social groups are more likely to identify with each party. politics was the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. ship owners. and individuals who have less than a high school education. and various ethnic groups (see chart on page 290). They strongly supported states’ rights. 7 The Party-In-Government – once the election is over. and professionals or business persons. whether at the national. Republicans – draw more of their support from college graduates. unions. has a great deal of control in the American system.
the established major parties need to gather fewer signatures to place their candidate on the ballot than minor parties or independent candidates do. This generates a built-in mechanism to perpetuate a two-party system. minor parties face different obstacles. winner-take-all principle. All of the rules and procedures of both houses of Congress divide committee seats. or even independents. they often will not vote for minor-party candidates. Today. The commonality of views among Americans (political culture of the U. and other privileges on the basis of party membership The Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules for campaign financing also place restrictions on minor-party candidates. We have had a basic consensus about our political system and the two major parties is that we have managed largely to separate religion from politics. The criterion for determining how many signatures will be required is often based on the total party vote in the last general election. gets all the electoral votes in that state.Reviewer in Political Parties slavery). but also the parties themselves are adept at making the necessary shifts in their platforms or electoral appeal to gain new members. They also believe that this goal should be achieved through individual. not necessarily the majority). initiative.S. The major division in American politics has been economic Not only does the political culture support the two-party system. Some hold off run-off elections until a candidate obtains at least one vote over 50% of the votes. The winner-take-all electoral system – the outcome of elections is based on the plurality (the most votes. sectional politics has largely given way to national politics (or can also be described as class politics). staff members. 8 o o o o MANGAMPAT . rather than collective. The self-perpetuation of the parties – most children identify with the political party of their parents. winner-take-all electoral system. Minor parties have a difficult time competing under such a system. At the national level. Relatively few are taught to think of themselves as Libertarians or Socialists.) Most Americans want continuing material prosperity. Private property is considered a basic American value. State and federal laws favoring the two-party system In some states. The winner-take-all system also operates in the Electoral College – whoever gets the most votes in a state. which focuses on the concerns of the nation as a whole. even if the voters are ideologically in tune with them Not all the states use the plurality. Voters know that minor parties cannot succeed. as well as economic (the Northeast’s industrial interests versus the agricultural interests of the South). and the ability to acquire and use it the way one wishes commonly is regarded as a basic American right. even though they may influence the final outcome of the election.
started in 1919 as the radical left wing that split from the Socialist Party. The Socialist Workers’ Party. Among the Democrats. The Communist Party.S. and agrarian reform was its goal. formerly a Trotskyite group. started in 1877 The Socialist Party. formed in 1972 and still an important minor party Supports a laissez-faire capitalist economic program. started in 1938 The Libertarian Party. Free Soil Party. Some minor parties have had specific economic interests as their reason for being. o Splinter Minor Parties – the most successful minor parties have been those that split from major parties. o Other Minor Parties Numerous minor parties have come together around specific issues or aims. and to a lesser extent. and the American Independent Party supporting George Wallace in 1968. The Reform Party. o The Impact of Minor Parties MANGAMPAT . it allowed the Democrat candidate to be elected. combined with a hands-off policy on regulating matters of moral conduct. which was to ban the sale of liquor. Farmers were the backbone of this party. founded in 1901 by Eugene Debs Owed most of its success to the corruption of big-city machines and to antiwar sentiment. founded in 1996 by H. The most famous splinter party was the Bull Moose Progressive Party. Since the vote was split between the Republican Party and the Bull Moose Progressive Party. foreign policy. The American Independent Party emphasized mostly racial issues. was dedicated to preventing the spread of slavery Prohibition Party -. Political History o Historically Important Minor Parties The Socialist Labor Party. Populist Party – lasted from 1892-1908.Reviewer in Political Parties Such candidates are not eligible for federal matching funds in either the primary or the general election. active from 1848-1852. Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party of 1948. It was one of the most prominent farmer-labor parties that favored government intervention in the economy.the goal of this party started in 1869. which split from the Republican Party in 1912 over the candidate chosen to run for president. 9 The Role of Minor Parties in U. there has been three splinter third parties since the late 1940s : the Dixiecrat (State’s rights) Party of 1948. The Greenbacks – lasted from 1876-1884. Ross Perot Seeks to reform the political process and reduce the size of government.
weak Republicans. Most voters identify with one of the two major political parties. MANGAMPAT . 168-191). This yields a sevenfold classification: strong Democrats. Political Parties: Issues for the 21st Century o Relationship to the voters: what can the parties offer to individuals to induce them to become loyal party members? o Political parties have been weakened by the growing independence of political candidates and the ability of those candidates to raise their own funds and to run their own campaigns o Do the political parties actually stand for different positions on the issues? Party Identification Party identification is an important attitude that influences the vote. weak Democrats. while those claiming to be an independent are asked whether they feel closer to one of the two political parties. This trend. Can have a serious impact on the outcome of an election – splitting the votes The Uncertain Future of Party Identification – ties to the two major parties has weakened in the last three decades. and perceptions of political events. and strong Republicans. Aldrich. independents closer to the Democrats. but also voters are less willing to vote a straight ticket – that is to vote for all the candidates of one party. or independent. Party identification may be somewhat less important now than in the past. independents not closer to either party. in that partisan loyalties influence evaluations of candidates. The percentage of voters who engage in ticket splitting has increased from 12% in 1952 to more than 38% in the presidential election of 1996. But the indirect influence of party identification is great. party identification is a perceptual screen--a pair of partisan-tinted eyeglasses through which the voter views the political world. and these basic partisan loyalties influence the vote. Very few voters probably cast a ballot for Bush solely because he was a Republican. Put simply. Republican.Reviewer in Political Parties Sometimes the third-party issues were taken over some years later 10 by a major party. along with the increase in the number of voters who call themselves independents suggests that parties have lost much of their hold on the loyalty of the voters. but it is still a very significant factor for explaining political orientations and behavior (Abramson. and Rhode 2003. This seven-point party identification scale is in the dataset. independents closer to the Republicans. assessments of government performance. Party identification normally is measured by asking individuals whether they consider themselves to be a Democrat. The direct influence of party identification on the vote is small in presidential elections. Those indicating Democratic or Republican are then asked whether they are a strong or a weak Democrat or Republican.
whether or not they were connected with those events. a child growing up in the 1990s would associate the Democratic party with the sex scandal of the Clinton administration. Childhood Influence is one of main driving factors behind formation of party identification. a child could forever associate the party with those memorable events. a child growing up in the 1970s would associate the Republican party with the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration. other close family members and close surroundings such as the immediate community. 11 MANGAMPAT . Political Scientists have developed many theories to childhood influence on political party identification. David O. Although these parties might or might not embrace the issues that happened during that administration.Reviewer in Political Parties Characterization Party Identification is characterized in three ways Some view party attachment as a form of social identity. For example. Children remember events that happened during their childhood and associate them with the political party. which is similar to a religious or ethnic identity. Sears developed a theory stating that major childhood events will influence a child at a young age and make a permanent impression. During childhood. the main political influence comes from parents. or a child growing up in early 2000 would associate the Republican party with the Iraq War and the War on Terror.
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