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TAMU POLS 315 - Political Parties

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What is a Political Party?According to Kenneth Janda, a political party is:An organizationBy “organization”, political scientists assume:1. Structure (leaders and followers)2. Identifiable goalswhich has as at least one of its goalsthe placement of its avowed representative in governmental officesbroad in their general ideas for the general populationBy Janda’s definition, the following qualify as partiesCompetitive – emphasize “open competition in the electoral process”Restrictive – emphasize “restricting competition [from] opposing parties”Ex: plurality elections, winner take all systemSubversive – emphasize “subverting the political system”By forcing their members into officeAll groups have structures and identifiable goals.Interest GroupsAs paraphrased from Nimmo & Ungs (1967), an interest groupA group that is organized for the expression of common interests and attitudes.Pressure GroupsAn interest group which expresses common interests and attitudes to the governmentNarrow to specific citizen’s concernsPAC’sA pressure group which collects money from its members and contributes that money to candidates and parties“SuperPACs” are independent expenditure only, meaning separately from the candidates and the parties.Differences between Political Parties and OthersCompared to pressure groups, parties:Normally have wider range of interests (behavioral distinction)Normally have broader base of appeal (behavioral)Want to place avowed representatives in governmental positionsAccording to Maurice Duverger “Political Parties have as their primary goal the conquest of power or a share in its exercise…pressure groups, on the contrary, do not seek to win power themselves, or to participate in the exercise of power; they endeavor…Where did Political Parties come from?The United StatesAlthough framers argued against the formation of Political Parties, not mentioned in the constitution, but made it possible for people to assemble through the bill of rights.The First Political Parties…Federalist PartyFound by Alexander Hamilton in the early 1790’s for the rich and upper-class1816 last election for federalistsJeffersonian Republican Party1796 - two party system in place. Party of the common people by Jefferson and MadisonServed as the only party “The Era of Good Feelings” during the 1920’sStates were allowing more and more people to vote, broader issuesDemocratic Republicans and National Republicans1828 – Jackson vs. Quincy Adamstwo party system revived again1830’s Democratic Republicans  The Democratic PartyNational Republicans  The Whigs ,to emphasize Andrew Jackson’s elected “monarch”1840 – Democratsoldest political party in the world…1852 – Whigs die out, tried to be the “party of everyone”1854 – A new political partyAnti – Nebraskans (Anti – Slavery)Kansas-Nebraska act would allow states to determine whether they would be slave states or free states, They wanted no more slave statesRepublican Party begins … (as a new party) opposing slaveryThe birth of the First PartiesWhy?Difference of “substance”Agreement on “rules of the game”Freedoms listed in the first amendmentBroad suffrageLarge number of voters brought the need to organize people to inform and educate peopleWhere are they now?In all but a few (less than a dozen) countriesOne party systems fewer than tenMostly communistMulti Party systems (>2) are most commonWhat things are necessary for democracy to work?Democracy : rule by the peoplePeaceful ways of expressing demands transition of powerAn educated populousReasonable choices on issuesGood, qualified candidatesWhat is the proper place of parties in democracy?Some say: no placeSome say: as organizer of a majority to govern (e.g. EE Schattschneider)Some say: as organizer of alternative policy programs for governmentWhat specific roles and functions should parties provide?Educate the populationWell nomination process for candidatesRepresent various interestsOrganize governmentPackage issues intoWhat criteria would we use to evaluate parties?Why the 2-Party System in the United States?1. Duality of economic and social issues.“Yes” side and “No” side to every issue and no in between2. “Socially Consensus” on rules of the gameexplains why we don’t have Anti-Regime Parties opposes the current political process that exists (no real support in the US)3. Angle-Saxon political maturity4. Mechanical-electoral reasons1. Electoral System Type:Plurality elections with single member districtsVs.Proportional representation (PR) with multi-member districtsWasted Vote Thesis – voting for third parties vs. Dems or GOPPLURALITY ELECTION SYSTEM with single member districts is the most important reason for the 2 party system in the United States.2. Ballot – access requirementsIn order to get a candidate’s name on the ballot, they must fulfill these requirements as determined by the state, often quite difficult3. Campaign Finance Laws (Federal Election Campaign Act)i. As a third party, they must get at least 5% of the votes to receive federal funding if they qualifyii. Biased for the two major parties, however they usually run campaigns on their own in order to not be limited on budgetiii. Dems and GOP agree in congress to make it difficult for 3rd parties to receive funds5. Functional – Pragmatic Reasons“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”General Explanation for Number of Parties1. Technical/mechanical (electoral laws)proportional representation produces multi-party systemsplurality elections produces two – party system2. more than one relevant issue dimension (cleavage)the more dimensions that divide people into different opinions, the greater change for a multi-party system3. more than dualism on a single issue planetwo different views on each issueWhy the same two parties at all levels of government in the U.S.?1. The major national parties need state/local affiliatesget out the vote, people identify themselves as a certain party at all levels2. Most voters don't distinguish by government level3. the two major political parties have made it difficult (thru electoral laws) for other parties to compete at any level4. 3rd party presidential candidates don’t want to share scarce resourcespublicityReview:Which is better: 2 party or multi-party system?Representation – multiCompromise – toss upSimplify for voters – two partyMajority government – two partyContinuity/coherence of


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