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are the specific efforts by parties to obtainvotes via a combination of media and organizational appeals.Learning ObjectivesBy the end of this unit, you should be able toodefine the key features and functions of political parties.oidentify the underlying characteristics that political scientists use to distinguish between different types of political parties.olist and distinguish among the various types of political parties from their origins to the present time.odiscuss the relevance of cleavages to the development of party systems.olist the five types of party system in terms of their defining features.odescribe and differentiate Canadian political parties in terms of their underlying characteristics.odescribe the history of the Canadian party system since Confederation in terms of the party systems that the political parties represent.odiscuss the role that ideology plays in party systems.oidentify important aspects of Canadian party organization, including methods for selecting leaders, nominating candidates, establishing party policies, and financing party operations and campaigns.odescribe the basic principles of democratic elections.ooutline the three types of party campaigns.odescribe how political campaigns shape voter preferences with promises and advertising.oexplain voting behaviour in terms of long-term dispositions and short-term factors.oaddress the question of whether or not political parties are in decline.Introduction44
Political parties play a unique role in politics. Parties that compete for voter support through fair elections are crucial to democratic politics. Even non-democratic societies have political parties, although their political roles and characteristics are usually quite different from those of their democratic counterparts.Political parties are embedded in civil society, but they also have formal roles and authority inrelation to the state.The noted economist Joseph Schumpeter argued in 1943 that all democratic political parties fulfill two critical roles. First, they recruit, groom, and promote individuals for election to political office. Second, they organize competitive electoral campaigns in order to garner mass electoral support for their candidates on the basis of specific promises and appeals. By fulfilling these two roles, parties enable representative democracy to function reliably. According to Schumpeter’s understanding of democracy, the minimum required number of voters, collectively,selects from among competing party choices in relation to these two roles, which enables the election of executives and legislatures.More precisely, parties are social organizations that act as agents, providing instrumental representation (which we discussed in Unit 4) on behalf of those specific components of politicalcommunities (which we discussed in Unit 3) that support them within the electoral system.