Chapter 9 - Political Parties
Parties—Here and Abroad
There is a much greater sense of party loyalty and voting participation today in Europe
than in America because in America, being a part of a political party isn’t as important or
major as before.
However, at one time, being a part of the
Party was very important.
seeks to elect candidates to a public office by supplying them with a
—a “party identification” name—by which they are known to the voting population,
This broad definition covers well-known parties, like the Democrats and
the Republicans, as well as lesser-known parties, like the Whigs, Libertarians,
and Socialist Workers.
On ballots, though, political party names rarely even appear!
Strong parties have strong labels—these labels appeal to people greatly; but nowadays,
parties are much weaker, since fewer people participate in elections and identify
themselves as belonging to a certain party.
People see parties as a label in the minds of voters, an organization that recruits and
campaigns for candidates, and a set of leaders who try to organize and control
Recently, the drop in strong party affiliation has been gradual (22%-18%
in Democrats; 13%-11% in Republicans), and more and more people are calling
As the set of leaders who organize gov’t, parties have remained strong,
but as organizations that elect people to office, they have lost a LOT of power,
since more and more states are having primaries (less influence by the
) and boss corruption has been broken.
In Europe, things are different: candidates are elected by party leaders, elected officials
should vote in favor of what the party wants, and the party runs the campaign, not the
The difference is because of the decentralization of gov’t in America, since power is not
held on a national level and national parties are basically coalitions of local parties;
though lately, American gov’t has
become more nationalized—the federal gov’t, not the
state ones, makes the decisions on schooling and welfare, issues that affect people’s
lives and once were made by local governments.
However, political parties have become more de
centralized, since in the U.S., state and
federal laws regulate how political parties function: the public selects candidates to run
for office in election
(in Europe, the parties do that); and the party that wins
control of Congress does not, as it does in European nations, control the right to select
the chief executive of the gov’t.
The leader does not pick cabinet members from Congressmen, but rather,
from people NOT in Congress, thus weakening the significance and power of
parties in terms of organizing gov’t and conducting business.