Chapter!+POLITICAL+PARTIES - Parties and Party Systems'In politics shared hatreds are almost always the basis of friendships ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE

Chapter!+POLITICAL+PARTIES - Parties and Party Systems'In...

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Parties and Party Systems
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'In politics, shared hatreds are almost always the basis of friendships.' A LEXIS DE T OCQUEVILLE Democracy in America (1835) So fundamental are political parties to the operation of modern politics that their role and significance is often taken for granted. It is forgotten, for instance, that parties are a relatively recent invention. As political machines organised to win elections and wield government power, parties only came into existence in the early nineteenth century. Now, however, they are virtually ubiquitous. The only parts of the world in which they do not exist are those where they are suppressed by dictatorship or military rule. Quite simply, the political party is the major organising principle of modern politics. Whether they are the great tools of democracy or sources of tyranny and repression, political parties are the vital link between the state and civil society, between the institutions of government and the groups and interests that operate within society. Nevertheless, parties and party systems have increasingly come under attack. They have been blamed for failing to articulate the new and more diverse aspirations that have emerged in modern societies, and for failing to solve, or perhaps even address, many of their most serious problems. The principal issues discussed in this chapter are the following: Key issues ? What is a political party? How can parties be classified? ? What are the major functions of political parties? ? How are parties organised, and where is power located within them? ? What kinds of party system are there? ? How does the party system shape the broader political process? ? Are parties in decline, and is this decline terminal? Contents Party politics 230 Types of party 231 Functions of parties 233 Party organisation: where does power lie? 237 Party systems 240 One-party systems 241 Two-party systems 242 Dominant-party systems 243 Multiparty systems 245 The decline of parties? 246 Summary/Questio ns for discussion/Furthe r reading 248 2 3 12 • PARTIE S AND PARTY SYSTE MS
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Party politics
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Political parties are found in the vast majority of countries and in most political sys- tems. Parties may be authoritarian or democratic; they may seek power through elections or through revolution; and they may espouse ideologies of the left, right or centre, or, indeed, disavow political ideas altogether. However, parties of some kind exist from Brazil to Burundi and from Norway to New Zealand. The development of political parties and the acquisition of a party system came to be recognised as a mark of political modernisation. By the late 1950s, some 80 per cent of the world's states were ruled by political parties. During the 1960s and early 1970s, however, a decline set in with the spread of military rule in the developing world. Political parties were accused of being divisive, and of failing to solve overriding prob- lems of poverty and ethnic and tribal rivalry. They also proved to be inconvenient for economic and military elites. The upsurge of 'democratisation' in the 1980s and
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