Political Parties and Party Systems

By Alan Ware | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
WHY PARTY SYSTEMS DIFFER

SECTION A

As we have seen, three different approaches--sociological, institutional, and competitive--have been utilized in the analysis of parties and party systems. The question of why party systems differed from one regime to another was one of the main areas of research in which the sociological and the institutional approaches provided very different answers. While the early institutionalists had seen electoral systems as the cause of different party systems, the sociological approach emphasized the centrality of divisions within society, and especially class divisions. As Lipset wrote in 1960:

More than anything else the party struggle is a conflict among classes, and the most impressive single fact about political party support is that in virtually every economically developed country the lower-income groups vote mainly for parties of the left, while the higher-income groups vote mainly for parties of the right. 1

As with all long-standing academic debates, though, the grounds of the controversy between the two approaches have shifted over the years. Thirty years ago the distinction between the two was relatively clear cut. Today many of the arguments originally made by the 'sociologists' are accepted by the 'institutionalists', and vice versa; where they differ is in the weight they attach to the different factors that determine the character of a particular party system. But a useful starting-point for our discussion is the sociological approach's emphasis on class; having explained this we can then turn to the distinctive features of the institutional approach.

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Political Parties and Party Systems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • List of Tables xii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • About This Book xvi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Parties 15
  • Chapter One - Parties and Ideology 17
  • Chapter Two - Supporters, Members, and Activists 63
  • Chapter Three - Party Organizations 93
  • Chapter Four - Parties in Non-Liberal- Democratic Regimes 124
  • Part II - Party Systems 145
  • Chapter Five - The Classification of Party Systems 147
  • Chapter Six - Why Party Systems Differ 184
  • Chapter Seven - Stability and Change in Party Systems 213
  • Chapter Eight - Party Systems in Non- Liberal-Democratic Regimes 245
  • Part III - Moving towards Government 255
  • Chapter Nine - The Selection of Candidates and Leaders 257
  • Chapter Ten - Campaigning for Election 289
  • Chapter Eleven - Voter Choice and Government Formation 317
  • Chapter Twelve - Parties in Government 349
  • Conclusions 377
  • Appendix 1 - France 383
  • Appendix 2 - Germany 388
  • Appendix 3 - Great Britain 391
  • Appendix 4 - Japan 395
  • Appendix 5 - United States 398
  • Notes 404
  • Index 417
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