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Social Sci LibreTexts

15.5B: Political Parties and Elections

  • Page ID
    8450
  • [ "article:topic" ]

    Political parties seek to influence government policy by nominating select candidates to hold seats in political offices.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Evaluate the party system, both in proportional representation voting systems and two-party systems

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • Parties participate in electoral campaigns and educational outreach or protest actions.
    • Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or vision bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a coalition among disparate interests.
    • The type of electoral system is a major factor in determining the type of political party system.
    • In countries that have a proportional representation voting system, three or more parties are often elected to parliament in significant proportions, and thus may have more access to public office.
    • In two-party systems, two political parties dominate to such an extent that electoral success under the banner of any other party is almost impossible.
    • Political parties, still called factions by some, are lobbied vigorously by organizations, businesses, and special interest groups such as trades unions.
    • Multi-party systems are systems in which more than two parties are represented and elected to public office.
    • Political parties, still called factions by some, are lobbied vigorously by organizations, businesses, and special interest groups such as trades unions.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • faction: A group of people, especially within a political organization, who express a shared belief or opinion different from people who are not part of the group.
    • two-party system: A two-party system is a system where two major political parties dominate voting in nearly all elections at every level of government and, as a result, all or nearly all elected offices are members of one of the two major parties.
    • proportional representation: A voting principle aimed at securing a close match between the percentage of votes that groups of candidates (usually political parties) obtain in elections, and the percentage of seats they receive in the elected body.

    Typically, a political party is a political organization seeking to influence government policy by nominating its own select candidates to hold seats in political office, via the process of electoral campaigning. Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or vision, bolstered by a written platform with specific goals that form a coalition among disparate interests.

    The type of electoral system is a major factor in determining the type of party political system. In countries with a simple plurality voting system there can be as few as two parties elected in any given jurisdiction. In countries that have a proportional representation voting system, as exists throughout Europe, or a preferential voting system, such as in Australia or Ireland, three or more parties are often elected to parliament in significant proportions, allowing more access to public office. In a nonpartisan system, no official political parties exist, sometimes due to legal restrictions on political parties. In nonpartisan elections, each candidate is eligible for office on his or her own merits. In nonpartisan legislatures, no formal party alignments within the legislature is common.

    In two-party systems, such as in Jamaica and Ghana, the two political parties dominate to such an extent that electoral success under the banner of any other party is virtually impossible. Multi-party systems are systems in which more than two parties are represented and elected to public office. Australia, Canada, Pakistan, India, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Norway are examples of countries with two strong main parties, along with smaller or “third” parties that have also obtained representation. The smaller parties may form part of a coalition government together with one of the larger parties, or act independently.

    Political parties, still called factions by some, are lobbied vigorously by organizations, businesses and special interest groups such as trades unions. Money and gifts-in-kind to a party, or its leading members, may be offered as incentives. Such donations are the traditional source of funding for all right-of-center cadre parties. In the late 19th century, these parties faced opposition by the newly founded left-of-center workers’ parties, who formed a new party type—the mass membership party—and a new source of political fundraising—membership dues.

    image

     

    Republican Party, 1985: Ronald Reagan giving his Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention, Detroit, MI.