Political Parties and Party Systems

By Alan Ware | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

1. What are parties and party systems?

Parties

In contemporary states it is difficult to imagine there being politics without parties. Indeed, in only two kinds of states today are parties absent. First, there are a few small, traditional societies, especially in the Persian Gulf, that are still ruled by the families who were dominant in the regions they control long before the outside world recognized them as independent states. Then there are those regimes in which parties and party activities have been banned; these regimes are run either by the military or by authoritarian rulers who have the support of the military. While these interludes of party-less politics can last for some years, ultimately the suppression of parties has proved to be feasible only as a temporary measure. As the military authorities relax their grip on power, or as unpopular policies stir discontent, so parties start to re-emerge from 'underground' or from their headquarters abroad. The difficulty that regimes have in suppressing party politics is one indicator of just how central parties are to governing a modern state.

If the conduct of both politics and government in modern states seems to require that there be political parties, this does not mean that parties are always revered institutions. Far from it. In some countries there is a long-standing distrust of parties. This is especially true in the United States where anti-party sentiments are evident from the very founding of the state in the late eighteenth century. At times this anti-partism has manifested itself in moves to restrict the activities of parties. For example, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Progressive reformers in many of the American states introduced laws that prohibited parties from contesting local government elections. This did not prevent them from participating informally in these elections, but it did bring about a significant reduction of party activity at this level of politics. Moreover, even in countries where extensive party involvement in public life appeared to have a high degree of public acceptance, dissatisfaction with politics could rebound on all the major parties. For example, in Germany in 1993 a protest movement

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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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