A.P. Civics Notes: Chapter 7
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
However, at one time, being a part of the
Party was very
seeks to elect candidates to a public office by supplying them with a
“party identification” name—by which they are known to the voting population, or the
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
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 government.
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 themselves
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 candidate.
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