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  • Slide 1
  • Political Parties & Democracy
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  • In democracies, citizens organize their political activity through political parties and the election process. Parties develop out of our differences about how to achieve common goals. They are a natural product of a democratic and free society. The founding fathers specifically did not approve of having political parties.
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  • Purpose of Parties to put forward proposed leaders whom they support for official positions in government. Parties want to have an impact on public policy, organize the opposition and offer alternatives. Parties create important links between the voter, groups & government. To succeed, they must build consensus.
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  • Party Functions Mobilize ordinary citizens, either to vote or to achieve some other political goal. Recruit and socialize leaders, even in one-party states. Provide a long-lasting sense of party identification. Provide a means for party leaders to control rank and file members.
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  • Party Functions Provide links between: Branches of government in a separation of powers system. Levels of government in a federal system. Citizens and government in all systems.
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  • Party Functions Parties in Non-democracies-Functions may differ. They may mobilize support for the regime. Recruit and train potential leaders. Oversee the bureaucracy. Spy on population (in totalitarian systems). Not a link between the bottom and top, but a means of social control by the top over the bottom.
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  • Types of Party Systems One-Party Authoritarian-Government & party closely linked. No opposition parties permitted. Example: Communist Party in North Korea Kim Il Sung
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  • Types of Party Systems Dominant Party System; one-party dominates for long periods of time. No legal ban on other parties, but only one party has chance to win office, and there may be informal harassment of opposition parties. Examples: PRI in Mexico until the 1990s, Japan until the 1990s
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  • Types of Party Systems Two Party System. Either party has genuine chance to win office; elections truly competitive. Additional parties not outlawed but have serious difficulty winning because of electoral system. Tend to be general parties; tend to be stable. Disadvantage: Voters limited to two choices. Examples: United States, Canada, Britain, New Zealand
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  • Types of Party Systems Multi-Party System. Competitive elections with multiple parties ensure that no one party can dominate for long. Parties tend to be more doctrinaire and distinctive, giving voters more choice. By far the most common. In Multi-party states, its difficult for any one party to win a majority. Coalition with similar parties become necessary. But coalition partners may resign over particular government policies, so this system is less stable. Example of government instability: Italy, from 1945 to 1995, had 44 different coalition governments.
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  • Parties in the US Any American citizen may join a political party regardless of age, but most members are eighteen or older. The United States has a two-party system. The Republicans emerged as a major party in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln. The Democratic Party formed under Andrew Jackson twenty years earlier.
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  • Hamilton vs. Jefferson Political parties first emerged when followers of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson disagreed over major issues on the Constitution and government. Jeffersons group took the name Democratic- Republicans. Due to experience with Britain, they feared a powerful central government. They wanted the states to hold greater power. Anti-Federalist. Hamilton championed a strong national government with a powerful chief executive. His followers called themselves Federalists, after those who supported the Constitution.
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  • Jacksonian Democracy Reigns In 1828, the farmers and small business owners who made up Jeffersons party, calling themselves the Democratic Party, nominated Andrew Jackson. He stood for the common citizen, but looked out for southern and western interests. Those who did not support Jackson formed their own party called Whigs, after a Scottish political leader. Their real name was the National Republican Party. The Whigs and Democrats made up the two key parties in American politics for two decades.
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  • The Two Major Parties Emerge In 1854 Whigs, former Free Soil Party members, and ex-Democrats formed the Republican Party to oppose the spread of slavery in US territories. The Whigs faded from American politics leaving the Democrats and Republicans in a two-party system that has dominated American politics ever since. However, at that time, Republicans were for a strong national government, while Democrats supported states rights.
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  • Progressive Party In 1912, the Progressive Party was born out of the Republicans. At this point the rest of the Republicans moved to a more conservative, small government position. Progressives supported womens rights, minimum wage, and a national health care program.
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  • Progressive Party Progressive Republicans eventually split the Republican Party and in the 1930s supported Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. This was the birth of the modern Democratic Party. Thus, the two parties flipped in their support of a strong national government.
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  • The Rise and Decline of Parties The Results of Reform The worst forms of political corruption were reduced. All political parties were weakened; parties became less able to hold officeholders accountable or to coordinate across the branches of government Decline in Party Identification, 1952-2002
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  • The Rise and Decline of Parties Party realignment Critical or realigning periods: periods when a sharp, lasting shift occurs in the popular coalition supporting one or both parties Two kinds of realignments A major party is defeated so badly that it disappears and a new party emerges Two existing parties continue but voters shift their loyalty from one to another Realignments 1860: slavery issue 1896:Industrialization, city/farm split 1932: Great depression
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  • The Rise and Decline of Parties 1980: Could not have been a traditional realignment, because Congress was left in the hands of the democrats Party Decline- Evidence that parties are declining, not realigning: Proportion of people identifying with a party declined between 1960 and 1980; Proportion of those voting a split ticket increased
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  • Third Parties Any party other than the two major parties can be called a Third party. No third party has ever gained control of the White House. Sometimes, third parties win seats in Congress or gain office in lower levels of government. When these smaller groups challenge the two major parties, they can change the outcome of elections. Their most important role is to influence policy on one or more issues. Ralph Nader, Green Party Candidate, 2000
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  • Third Parties at the Turn of the Century In the late 1800s, the Peoples Party, or Populists became popular. They had the support of farmers and workers who called for better working conditions. They never succeeded in getting a national candidate into office, many of their ideas on workers rights became laws in the 20 th Century.
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  • Impact of Minor Parties Types of Third Parties Sectional or Splinter Parties-Divisions within major parties Economic Protest Parties IdeologyParties Cult of Personality Parties Specific Issue Parties Combination Parties
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  • Ideological Third Parties An ideology is a body of ideas put forth by a person or group. Minor third parties are often formed to support a specific issue. These rise and fall over time. Ideological parties want to change society in major ways. The Socialist and Communist Parties want to nationalize major industries. The Green Party calls for companies to respect the environment.
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  • Cult of Personality Some third parties form from the efforts of famous people. If they cannot gain support from one of the major parties, they form their own. H. Ross Perots Reform Party was a force in the 1992 and 1996 elections. This party also placed pro wrestler Jesse Ventura in the governors mansion in Minnesota. These parties usually fade after their candidate is defeated.
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  • Splinter Parties Splinter parties are groups within one of the major parties which splits with the majority in the group usually because of ideological differences. Example: The Tea Party faction in the Republican Party Sometimes these groups divide the major party and form their own party.
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  • The Odds Are Against Them It is difficult for third parties candidates to raise enough money to compete with the major parties. Only one candidate can win in a given district. Usually the winner is either Democratic or Republican. Third-party candidates must show they have support by getting voter signatures to even be placed on the ballot for national office.
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  • Impact of Minor Parties Conventional wisdom holds that


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