Table of Contents• Nature of Political Parties• Characteristics of Political Parties• Functions of Political Parties• Development of Political Parties• Elite Parties• Mass Parties• Catchall Parties• Party System
..Table of Contents• One-Party System• The Dominant Party System• Two- Party System• Multi-Party System• Selecting a Party Candidate• Financing a Party• Party Democracy and Party Government• Parties in Authoritarian and Communist Regimes• Challenges Confronting Parties
Nature of Political PartiesNineteenth century struggles or battles were foughtbravely over the expansion of the politicalfranchise—the right to vote and representation. Theidea that certain classes or groups could embody thepublic by virtue of their wealth, high educationalattainment or talents paved way to the realities ofmass democracies.
Gradually the right to suffrage was extended both verticallyand horizontally. Vertical expansion in the sense thatrepresentatives derived their powers directly from the people,and the horizontal growth included everyone in the franchise.Hence, the birth of political parties came into being to recruitpeople for certain political action that stimulated them inchoosing representatives through organized politicalmachines for the control of power in the government.
Political parties are usually part of the system ofmass politics that came out from the onset ofrepresentatives government and the growingdevelopment of the movement in the nineteenthcentury. They are formal factions or organizedgroups seeking to elect government leaders.
Political parties are more or less permanentorganizations that contest elections because they aimto assume the crucial positions of authority withinthe state. They as faction groups are structured witha bigger formation, with formal organizations andmembers pursuing a common purpose, which ismutually enforcing among them.
Ostrogorski (1854 - 1919) in Martin Harrop’s Political Partieswas the pioneering student of politics who came to recognizethat parties were becoming vital in the new era of democraticpolitics: “wherever this life of parties is developed, it focusesthe political feelings and the active wills of its citizens.”Further, he contended that the emergence of parties wasindeed growing and becoming truly important and dictumedin this wise, “the twentieth century proved to be the centuryof politics…”
In West Europe, mass parties battled for the votes of enlargedelectorates. In communist and fascist states ruling partiesmonopolized power in an attempt to reconstruct society andthe people within it. In the developing world, nationalistparties became vehicles for driving colonial rulers back totheir imperial homelands. In all these cases parties succeededin drawing millions of people into the national politicalprocess, often for the first time. The mass party was themobilizing device of the twentieth century.
Note:Parties are often confused with interest groups.Unlike interest groups, which seek merely toinfluence the government, political parties pursuegoals to secure leverage in keeping the affairs of thestate right at their commands.
Important terms to remember:Political parties - are defined as organizedgroups of qualified voters pursuing the sameideology, political ideas and principles for thegeneral conduct of the government.
Characteristics of Political PartiesThe surfacing of political parties in contemporary politics isan indication of a representative democracy. Political partiesexist even in totalitarian states; in modern dictatorship at leastone single party may appear with no clashing opposition onone side. Politics is a struggle for power at least indemocracies. The fight for political power arises from variedgroups, particularly among political parties.
There are some characteristics of political parties that usually distinguish them from other groups or movements. These are, among others:1. Parties exist to attain political leverage in controlling the power ofgovernment by winning elections. Small parties nevertheless may considerelections more build government platforms of programs than to winpolitical offices;2. Parties are politically organized bodies with formal structures, definedideologies and supporting membership. This characteristics of a partydistinguishes it from a broader and more diverse social movement;3. Parties often adopt a broad issue agenda, identifying to each of themajor areas of government policy. Other parties like interest groups mayhave a single issue concern and are bent on pursuing them throughpressing propaganda techniques;
4. Some parties do come and go, particularly in democratic societieswhere there are multi-party systems. A number of political parties maycome into being during election period and may wither away afterelections. As long as interests of members are coordinated and served theyremain with the parties but as internal power clashes among them andinterests became more personal to content parties may disintegrate asleaders withdraw only to coalesce later with other party, usually withparty in power;5. Parties, to varying degrees, are grouped with unity of purpose, sharedpolitical preference and a general ideological principle.
Functions of Political PartiesThe central function of political parties is the filling out ofpolitical offices through wielding of government power.Political parties working out for elected positions ingovernment are commonly regarded as bastions ofdemocracy. As Haque (2002) argues that the existence ofsuch parties is often seen as the litmus rest of a healthydemocratic system. On the other hand, regime parties thatenjoy a monopoly of political power are normally portrayedas mechanisms of exploitation and political power.
In democracies parties assume several important functions that keep the political system together and make their purposes alive. Some of general functions are:1. Linking the people and Government2. Interests aggregation3. Elite recruitment4. Goal Formulation5. Political mobilization and Socialization6. Organization of Government
Linking the People and the GovernmentThrough political parties citizens can get their needs clamorsresponded by the government easier. In the absence of parties,citizens would become a mere group of sheer individualswithout the capacity to be involved in the political processand decision making of a state. By working in or voting for aparty, citizens do offer significant influence on the politicalaffairs of the state. The presence of organized parties extendscitizens a sense of power that yields to maintain governmentlegitimacy.
Interest AggregationPolitical parties help tame and calm interest group conflictsby aggregating their separate interests into a largerorganization. Interest groups tend to find that they mustmoderate their demands, cooperate and work for the good ofthe party. In return, they achieve at least some of their goals.Parties – especially large parties – are this in part coalitions ofinterest groups. As aggregation of interest groups goes on,parties pull into the political system groups that hadpreviously been left out in reaching out for votes, partiesusually welcome new groups into their ranks, giving them asay or input into the formation of party platforms.
Elite RecruitmentPolitical parties function as agents of eliterecruitment. They serve major building blocksfor preparing, choosing, and recruitingcandidates to run for public positions. Apotential candidate therefore must firstbecome a member of a party, to seek office hemust be well convincing to win partynomination.
Goal FormulationIn the process of controlling the power of a state, politicalparties assume significant role by formulating programmes orgovernment platforms with the goal of attracting masssupport to win elections. Political parties are not only thebases of policy direction but also they propose to initiateintegrated sets of policy goals that extend the citizens variedchoices from the array of formulated plans of actions.
Political Mobilization and SocializationThe most important function of political parties is to sway theelectorate choice at their sides simply putting getting largenumber of people to vote in their favor. In campaigning fortheir representatives parties are often engaged in stirringvoters’ interest. In the absence of effective campaignpropaganda, at least debate and discussion, political partieswould suffer tremendously from lack of publicity, as manycitizens would find no interest on them, and on the electionitself.
Most political scientists believe there is a causalconnection between weak United States politicalparties and low turn out. In Sweden, strong and well-organized parties often produce voter turnouts ofninety percent or higher. Some critics object thatparty electoral propaganda has a function. Bysimplifying and clarifying issues, parties enablevoters to choose among complex alternatives(Roskins, 1997).
Political parties are important tools for educating thepublic. The issues or concerns they advocate for. Oradhere to, could make a significant impact on thepeople or could even tilt the balance of electoralfavor to their advantages, and the values andattitudes they so expressed and espoused could thembecome part of the bigger social and political culture.
Organization of Government. Political partiesfacilitate linkage between the executive and thelegislature, sometimes to some extent, even thejudiciary (as in cases of developing countries withfragile and vulnerable democracies). Political partiesare so important in contemporary democracies. Theyhelp in the planning of governments and aresubstantially active in determining policy goals.
Parties give governments sense of legitimacy and a degree ofrelevance and consensus particularly when the staffs of thegovernment are reluctant from a single party. They aretherefore characterized with unity of purpose and withcommon attitude and sympathies. Even governments that arebuilt from various party alliances are also more appearing toappearing to promote unity and cohesion than ones thatconsist of separate individuals each having his differing setsof priorities.
Somewhat noticeable political parties indeveloping countries are more focus yet lessvaried as much as determining andpropagating their agenda is concerned, hence,aside from the general functions stated above,they carry specific functions and relevance.
These are noted as follow:1. Parties generally exist to choose candidates for elections. There is acustomary principle that when a candidate is selected from their ranksshall enjoy full support from the members, and shall have considerableaccess to party logistics for successful campaign mobilization.2. Parties stand for platforms of government. Party slogan and campaignissues determine their significance and future government positioning.Parties with defined agenda and mass based following with members ableto articulate these goals are almost certain for election.
3. Party organization forms political machines to attract voters and winelection. Public sympathies should be translated into actual votes duringelections. Successful party based should start at the grassroots level that isfrom electoral barangay, to municipality, to city, to provinces and tonational level. Political machineries are indispensable in democracies onlyto keep the election works on their advantage.4. Parties provide political leadership for the country and serve asfiscalizers of the party in power. Political candidates who were elected aredirectly stakeholders of the government. They thus provide workableframeworks to jumpstart the political, social and economic agenda for thestate. As effective fiscalizers they act as watchdogs with constant eye forany abuses of the party in power.
5. Parties provide alternative approach whenever theelectorate changes the party in power, a new political groupshall then emerge to provide the society and state newpolitical agenda, new hope and new challenges for buildingfresh thrusts and mandates, although not necessarily betterthan their predecessors.
Development of Political PartiesThe relevance of political parties is sometimes taken for granted but theyare so critical in established democracies. In United States alone, manyAmericans view parties as nothing but extraordinary tools of democracywithout much significance. Unlike in Europe political parties in UnitedStates are weaker, especially outside the seat of government power inWashington DC. The Republican and the Democratic parties are the twomajor parties in United States and are believed to be the same in terms ofmandates, attitudes and party ideologies.
Elections are not issue oriented rather citizens are more focuson personality of the candidates rather than party proposalsand government platforms. In fact, many political analysts arebecoming reluctant that parties would not yield muchinfluence on the citizens. Parties are somewhat losing theirsignificance. It is now feared that they may “fail to performnecessary political roles expected of them in keeping thesystem running correctly”.
In Roskins, Maurice Duverger put all parties into three traditional categories: mass, cadre or devotee.1. Mass parties include the western democratic parties, which vie formember by attempting to but across class lines and which seek the largestmembership possible. European parties while not as broadly based as theAnglo-American parties, are still mass parties because their membership isopen.2. Cadre parties in contrast such as the Chinese Communist Party andIndia’s Congress Party draw their support from the politically active elite.Generally associated with totalitarianism or developing nations cadreparties have centralized organizations and expect the elite group thatmakes up their membership to be active within the party.
3.Devotee parties such as the Nazis under AdolfHitler of Germany, where the party’s formalstructure is built around one person. Such a party isnow found almost exclusively in third Worlddeveloping countries.
Elite (Caucus) PartiesElite parties came to exist during the nineteenth century.Today, the cadre parties denote the organization ofprofessionals, knowledgeable, skilled and trained memberswho are politically committed and exhibited party valuediscipline. The important strength of cadre parties is theirdependence on the ruling elites that is capable of exhibitingideological alternatives to the people.
Mass PartiesMass parties have wider public based support. They are so organized tomobilize working class support system. They give extra premium onrecruitment of members that is membership is open to all other than thosewho have direct political goals. They sought to keep their representativesin the legislature on a rather competitive and influential rein and in effectexerted magnanimous pressure on European party systems in the twentiethcentury. The United States unlike the Philippines through Party Listsystem however never banked to develop mass party system.
Catchall PartiesCatchall parties aim to govern rather than to simply representthe members’ interest. They are purported to govern not onthe representations of the concerns of a single social groupbut rather in the name of national interests. In Haque (2001)catachall parties are direct responses to a mobilized politicalsystem in which governing has become more technical and inwhich electoral communication is through the media. ThePeople’s Party in Germany (volkspartei) with its strong-based support captures the catchall ideas.
These catachall parties would then appeal to wider number ofvoters to control the government powers. They emphasize onunity under strong leadership.Meanwhile, an emerging issue in party politics is theresurgence of ideological politics in the search of socialjustice and equality. It is a movement away from the expertand back to the people and to what may be called expressivepolitics.
The phenomenon is associated with single-issue groupsadvocating one particular position or interest, and the call torealize specific goals. It is a king of “do it yourself” politics.In Italy, Greece, Spain, France and Great Britain, ideologicalpolitics, in which nationalism plays an important role, haveresurfaced. They are likely to enhance existing cleavagesalong religious, class and ethnic lines and to undermineconsensus, and governmental authority.
Another way to classify parties is on the basis of ideology orthe left to right spectrum. Left wing parties such ascommunists propose leveling of class statues by nationalizingmajor industries under state control and ownership. The left-right political spectrum is a shorthand method ofcharacterizing political values and beliefs classifying into onecoherent ideological perspective the positions of socialmovements, parties, and politicians. It developed from FrenchRevolution with the juxtaposed political spectrum differencesprovided as reference by Heywoods (2002).
Left Right Liberty Authority Equality Hierarchy Fraternity Order Rights Duties Progress Tradition Reform ReactionInternationalism Nationalism Figure 12
Few terms in the political vocabulary of our timesare as ambiguous as left and right – to which ofcourse, the term center is always added to denotethose belonging to neither or sharing attitudes,beliefs and values common to both. In France, theleft is represented by two major parties – theCommunists and the socialists, and a number ofleftists splinters, the extreme left.
The difference between the left and the right are not asprofound as people believe. As regards to the economy, sociallegislation, foreign policy and political institutions, the areasof agreement between the two political families to the rightand the left are more marked than areas of disagreement. Anopinion poll in France in which 30 percent of the respondentscould not identify with either the left wing or the right wingparties, their answers resulted in a left-right mix.
Also in the political spectrum is the center leftparties such as the socialists’ parties of WesternEurope. It encourages welfare state not by statecontrol. An example of such are the Italian andGerman liberals where parties are generally open tosocial issues but remain steadfast on economicissues.
However, on the other hand, there also exist center rightparties like the German Christian Democrats who pursuedpower by controlling the welfare state over free enterprises.Right wing parties such as the British conservatives underLady Thatcher that aim to set aside the culture of welfarestate and rather promote capitalism. Among countries thatactually integrate the varying classifications of party systemin Sweden.
One more type of classifying parties as advanced bySigmund Neumann is between representation andintegrative parties. Representation parties see theirprimary functions as being the securing of votes inelections. Representatives parties adopt a catchallstrategy and therefore place pragmatism beforeprinciple and market research before popularmobilization.
Rational choice theory to politics may be defined to mean anapproach based on the assumption that individuals arerationally self- centered and self- interested actors that insimple understanding connotes the economic principles ofpolitics. Integrative parties on the other hand are usuallyreactive and tend to mobilize, educate and inspire the massesrather than merely respond to their concerns.
Party SystemParty systems have been defined as theinterrelations of parties with each other andwith the overall political system.
1. One- Party SystemOne party system broadly means a party in dominance or aparty is in monopoly of power via the absence of other party.A domination of power suggest a permanent power in controlwith no or very weak opposition. When a party dictates thepolitical power there seems to be no mechanism throughwhich it can be removed. Hence, it naturally developed an“entrenched relationship with the state machinery”.
A one party system is usually affiliated withtotalitarian states of the left or right wing. Asan example the former Soviet Union, theemerging superpower China and somecountries in Asia and Africa are or were in thepast under one single party system.
2. The Dominant Party SystemDominant political party refers to the hold of power by oneparty which is constantly in office controlling the governanceor coalition with other party. A single major party assumesprolonged period in power. Dominant parties are regarded tobe competitive in the sense that a number of parties competefor power in popular and regular elections, but they usuallyare elected and keep the power of the governments.
A traditional point is that to retain the dominance of CongressParty, it heavily relied on caste alliances and on a pyramid ofclass to maintain the status quo with the central power in themiddle of diversities and a society so disjointed by varyingculture and belief systems. The most dominant feature of adominant party according to Heywoods is the tendency forthe political focus to shift from competition between partiesto factional conflict within the dominant party itself.
The DC in Italy, for example, functioned as little more than acoalition of privileged groups and interests in Italian society,the party acting as a broker to these various factions. Themost powerful of these groups were Catholic Church, thefarmers and industrial interests. Each of these was able tocultivate voting loyalty, and exert influence upon DC’smembers in the Italian parliament.
3. Two- Party SystemTwo party system is characterized with the presenceof two major parties, like the Republican and theDemocratic Parties in United States, alternating inpower in the control of government. While the partyis in power the other party acts as the opposition.Still, whichever of the two major parties is in controlof power, it is only temporary.
The two major parties have a fair and equal chance ofwinning although some minor parties may exist; only twoparties electoral and legislative strength. Power alternatesbetween those two parties, the losing party serves as agovernment in waiting, Great Britain aside from US is alsofrequently cited as example of state with two party system.The Conservative Party and Labour Party are considered toexemplify two party pattern in Great Britian.
Although two party system may be considered weak byEuropean standards in terms of choice selection, itnevertheless defined the political history of United States, thegreatest forerunner of party politics. The two contestingparties may still be limiting, they are able to offer theelectorate a straightforward choice between rival platformsand alternative governments. When a party wins, it would beeasy for carrying out its programs without having tocompromise or negotiate with existing party affiliates.
Two party systems are very competitive fordelivering responsive government programs basedon “relentless competitions” between the governingand the opposition party. A party in power howevercould never just be complacent as it is constantlywatched and guarded by the prying eyes of theopposition, which actively waits to tilt the balance ofpower or simply up for the grabs.
The two party system in Great Britain has had real impact onits politics. Traditionally, it had social relevance to the classsystem. The Conservative Party and the Labour Party in theParliament (House of Commons) has provided the divisionbetween a coherent united government and a unitedopposition, and the two party system simplified the voters’choice at election time into voting for or against agovernment.
There are three main characteristics of British parties:1. British parties are disciplined and are united in voting. Invoting for the House of Commons members are expected tovote in unity with the party ticket, and should a politicianwiggle out of the party line he can later find himself out of aparty whip;2. British parties are pragmatic. During campaign periodsparties provide solid platforms and manifestos outlining thepolicies they will pursue once elected to government. Bothparty leaders and members are expected to support thesepolicies; and
3. British parties are centralized. However localparties nominate candidates, their choice is madefrom a list of candidates already approved by theparty headquarters.
The Conservative Party has electoral ability proven overtime to appeal tomany or varied social groupings. Its sheer durability is proof of itssuccess. It may be hard to describe the Conservative Party as ideologicalbut they worth some values they hold dearly like the freedom of choice,social welfare provisions, indirect taxation, etc. Truly, the success of theparty may be attributed to the constant failure of the Labour Party toharmonize members with unity of purpose. The dominant slogan of theConservatives has been the Tory of One Nation Tradition, this viewengages a positive state very effective to appeal for, and draw up, masssupport.
On the other hand, Labour Party pursues social and working class interest.Many say that the Bible became the source of the party ideas andinspiration. Some of the party mandates include nationalization of majorindustries, public social services provision, protection and enhancement oftrade unions and progressive income taxation, and so forth. However theconstant struggle of the two parties in Britain lead to significantdiscontinuities. Thus, Britain has suffered from adversary politics due toabrupt discontinuities in policies when one party replaces another inoffice.
4. Multi- Party SystemRepresentative democracy would be at its finest formwhenever there are competing parties for the controlof power in a government. Multiparty systemconnotes varying choices and alternatives for theelectorate. Thus, they are becoming undisputablepolitical norms in democratic societies.
A government in coalition characterizes multiparty system. Coalitiongovernments are formal agreements between two or more parties thatinvolve a cross party distribution of ministerial portfolios. They areusually motivated by the need to ensure majority control of the assembly,A coalition is a grouping of rival political actors brought together eitherthrough the perception of a common threat, or though the recognition thattheir goals cannot be achieved by working separately. A grand coalition ornational government comprises all the major parties, but are usuallyformed only at times of national crisis of economic emergency.
Multiparty system may also be characterized as what Sartoritermed as either moderate pluralism and polarized pluralism.Moderate pluralism exists where ideological differencesbetween major parties are slight that is their platforms andpromises appeal to middle of the road voters. Countries ofmoderate pluralists are the Netherlands, Belgium, andNorway, among others. On the other hand, polarizedpluralism exits when more number of parties with significantideological differences separates them.
Here parties tend to compete rather than compromisetheir political leanings; parties may tend to becomeideologically extreme and engages in “politics ofoutbidding” with their rivals. Some of them arerevolutionary or antisystem parties like strongcommunist parties in Italy, Spain and France until1990s. Such situations cause political instability andsocial unrest that may even lead to civil war.
In a state with multiparty system wide electoral support seemsdifficult to achieve as there are many political partiescompeting against each other for the control of government.The passage of a bill in a legislature requires majority supportfrom its ranks since parties can hardly secure majority votesof the people, they tend to form coalition with several partiesto get their interests moving upward.
It is also noticeable that under multiparty system,government becomes unstable every time awithdrawal of party support takes place and so forthe government to become stable it then becomes apolitical culture for the leading party to negotiate andcompromise with other parties included in thesystem.
In France, under the fourth Republic, there were eight or tenparties, most of them without discipline, leadership orplatforms. In the legislature, a number of parliamentaraygroups, corresponding more or less to the political parties,formed weak coalitions behind a government that thereforewas short-lived. The multiparty system led to a fragmentedassembly, which in turn accounted for cabinet instability.(cited in Macridis, 1990)
Because of their multiparty and internal divisions, the partiesin France could not perform two vital functions. They werenot able to debate and clarify issues for the public. Membersand leaders of the same party with exemption of thecommunists and the socialist groups, often advocateddifferent things in different parts of the country, and theirdifferences were not resolved in their party caucuses.
Second, under the Fourth Republic the parties could notprovide for a stable government committed to certainfundamental objectives. After an election it was impossible totell which combinations of political and parliamentary groupscould provide temporary support for a prime minister andwhich new combinations would bring about the primeminister’s downfall.
In some countries like the Philippines, themultiplicity of the parties eventually resultedin the widening of gaps between the peopleand the government. The system failed to givean opportunity to the people to choose theirgovernment and hold it accountable.
In summary, a party system is a network of relationshipamong varied political actors and power machines ininfluencing the outcome of a political process and indetermining policy goals and objectives. In one party systema ruling party dominates the function of the government andultimately becomes the government itself. Under two partysystem powers are up for grabs as two major parties contentthe rein of power in the government.
In dominant political system a single major party under astrong totalitarian leadership worked all the way up toperpetuate power for a long period of time. And in multipartysystem, no party is too dominant and consistent enough toassume governmental powers indefinitely thus bringing aboutcoalition government only to keep a considerable hold ofpower, at the very least should the party in power lost in itsbid to maintain or keep the political control at its disposal.
Selecting a Party CandidateAnthony Downs assumes that in a political market,parties act in a rational, self-interested way. Hedefines a party as “a team of people seeking tocontrol the governing apparatus by gaining office induly constituted election”. To maximize their controlover the government, parties seek also to make themost of their votes, even in a multiparty system.
“…The more votes a party wins, the morechances it has to enter a coalition, the morepower it receives if it does enter one and themore individuals in it hold office in thegovernment coalition. Hence, votemaximizing is still the basic motiveunderlying the behavior of parties… ” (Downin Haque, 2001)
Candidate selection is a crucial aspect of party organization. Candidateselection is also an area of transition in party practice, as ordinarymembers acquire more weight in selection procedures. In mostdemocracies, candidate selection is a decentralized procedure involving amajor role for local parties and an increasing one for individual members.In countries using the plurality election system, the most commonrequirement for a prospective parliamentary candidate is to win. Selectionby local constituency parties operating under the supervision of partyheadquarters (Haque, 2001).
But in specific terms, there are different ways in selecting acandidate for office. They vary from one country to another.In communist states, candidates of the party are chosen on thebasis of party hierarchy. In most democratic societies, partyleaders are selected at party conventions attended by “loyal,long time members, often representing constituencyorganizations”. Indeed, most candidates for public offices aredrawn from the party ranks of their members.
Three means of choosing candidates exist outside of direct selection from the ranks by the established party leadership. These are as follow:a. Some candidates are self- recruited: They enter the primary on their ownstrength. They may be wealthy and influential persons, who hope to use massiveadvertising to pull a lead or compensate their lack of organizational support orpersons who vice points of view that bring them a popular following but not partybacking.b. Candidates may also be recruited by cooptation: A party may ask a “big name”who is not formally identified with it to run as its candidates. This usually happenswhen the party has no strong candidate of its own and capitalize on a popular newface.c. Candidates are persuaded to file for office as the agents of groups who hope towin concessions from the established party hierarchy.
Financing A PartyIf parties would only depend on themembership fees paid by their members theywould never survive as effective partyorganizations. Usually the fees they extend toparties were not even enough to coveroperational expenses, which is why mostparties seek financial assistance from outsidesourcing.
In India and Germany for example candidates are expected togive donations and spend huge personal amount to financetheir campaign sorties, as well as to contribute to the partycoffers. So in effect candidates may overspend only to assureaccess to public post they were seeking after. In Britain,however, candidates work and operate their electoral financeswithin specified amounts, otherwise they may be chargedcriminally should they violate campaign- spending laws.
In modern day democracies, particularly indeveloping democracies, politics is played by anymeans: Long before the election period, potentialcandidates are already riding on free media publicityfor recall or retention purposes. The free mediamileage they get would to a large extent pay off inthe post election results.
People in developing countries are not issue-oriented rather they are more personality- oriented,which is why in the Philippine politics alone a greatnumber of local entertainers and showbizpersonalities have landed public offices easily withminimal expenses than those who are not as well-known or popular.
Meanwhile, many political candidates do spend undisclosedamount even buying citizens’ vote and employing other dirtytactics to coerce the electorate to favor them in the comingelections through goons, guns, and gold. In the United States,presidential elections may run over a year of publicity, mediaexposure and public appearances while electoral campaigns inEurope are relatively shorter that would mean anywhere fromseveral weeks to a month short thereby their campaignexpenditures are comparatively lower.
In the Philippines there is also a law that limits candidates’expenses per voter during election but traditional politicianswould always have their ways to overspend. In countries likeFrance, Israel, and Japan there are laws regulating politicalcontributions from civil society. Unlike in Sweden, Germanyand Spain where candidates may use government funds tosubsidize political parties in proportion to each party’selectoral strength.
Party Democracy And Party GovernmentA party system is “a network of relationship through whichparties interact and influence the political process especiallythe powers that rein in the government. In one party system aruling party effectively function as a permanent government.In two party system powers alternates between two majorparties. In dominant political parties a single major partyretains power for a prolonged period. In multi-party systemsno party is large enough to rule alone, leading to a system ofcoalition government ”.
Moreover, the organization and structure of parties usuallyinfluence the distribution of power within society at large.Party democracy can be promoted either by a wide dispersalof power within the party or by the concentration of power inthe hands of the party’s elected and publicly accountablemembers. Oligarchic tendencies may be inevitableconsequences of organization, or they may arise from theneed for party unity and electoral credibility.
Party government is “a system through which ingle parties areable to for government and carry through policy programs. Incompetitive systems, party government exists nowhere inpristine form. It is therefore sensible to talk about more partygovernment or less party government, but not about whetherit exists”.
In Heywoods concept definition there are key features of party government and these are:1. The major parties posses a clear program character and thus offer theelectorate a meaningful choice between potential governments;2. Responsibility is maintained by the government’s accountability to theelectorate through its mandate, and by the existence of credible oppositionacting as a balancing force; and3. The governing party is able to claim a popular mandate and enjoyssufficient ideological cohesion and organizational unity to delivery on itsmanifesto commitments.
While party democracy is “a form of popularrule that operates through the agency of aparty as a democratic institution”. There aretwo views on how this can be achieved. In thefirst intra-party democracy parties aredemocratic agents in that power within themis dispersed widely and evenly.
This implies, for instance, that there should be broadparticipation in the election of leaders and selection ofcandidates and a prominent role for conferences andconventions in policy formulation. In the second model,democracy dictates that policy- making power should beconcentrated in the hands of party members who are electedthe therefore publicly accountable. In this view, a wide andeven dispersal of power within the party may lead to thetyranny of non-elected constituency activists.
Parties In Authoritarian And Communist RegimesPolitical parties are fundamental bodies to theoperation of modern politics, and are found in mostcountries under democratic framework. Parties mayalso be present in authoritarian governments than todemocracies. Authoritarian rulers may dispense withparties altogether since they maintain strong systemof personal leadership behind the context of oneparty state.
They argue also about the relevance of parties forpeople are united under a dominant state ruler. Manycivilian authoritarian rulers have found a one partysystem useful but often just as a disguise for personalrule. Some authoritarian regimes still get by with noparties at all. These are either pre party or anti party.
The case of Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew (1959- 1990)under People’s Action Party (PAP) dominated and rules thetiny island since 1959 when it attained independence fromGreat Britain. The strong man rules PAP. The party showedsignificant dominance when in 1997 it won almost 95% seatsin the legislative department and the new Prime Ministerconcluded in this wise “that the electorate has totallycondemned Western style liberal democracy by outdoing itsprinciples”.
Thus, Singapore as a traditional example of theAsian developmental state in which a moderneconomy has been built on the foundations of tightpolitical control. This commitment to economicdevelopment, enabling the country to by-pass theEast Asian financial crash of the late 1990s gives thePAP continued confidence in its right to rule.(Harrop. 2001)
Still however, dominant parties in authoritarian regimes are battling withemerging issues in keeping the balance of power. Global issues arepressing for authoritarian states toward democratization. It has beenargued nonetheless the state citizens of authoritarian regimes wouldeventually realize and in the process develop resentments with the type ofpolitical control being exercised by one party dominance.While parties are commonly weakling and crawling in states underauthoritarian leadership, communist countries are by contrast working thatthe exercise of power by one ruling party system was progressing even ina non-democratic society.
In hindsight, Leninism idea that the monopoly of communistparty (vanguard party) provides a long term interest of theworking class and the people are made to understand that theCommunist Party of the Soviet Union was bent to achievesocial reformation in post revolution era. Vanguardism is thebelief in the need for a party to lead and guide the proletariator the working class towards the fulfillment of itsrevolutionary goals.
The political paradigm of a party dominance in a communiststate exercises power through varied methods. The centralgovernment keeps the monopoly of power and control societyin particularly all phases of its activities including the mediaand the dissemination of propaganda techniques. Just likeunder totalitarian regimes, party control is achieved throughforce, coercion and intimidation.
In Soviet Union before, the KGB being the police forcebecame ultimately the conduit of suppression. The KGBemployed espionage and other forms of intelligenceinformation gathering to identify and pin down in the processthe enemies of the state. Once this system of social control isfully operated it gave the ruling party the most systematicmethod in controlling the society and keeping the power in acommunist party that is so effective a method and somehowimpossible in any political system elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may seem to be liberalin controlling state power, it no longer seek t control the economy and thepopulation to such an extreme condition. Still the CCP maintains powerover the country’s political direction. As Manion (2004) concluded. “fornow, as in the past, the decision of the communist party state is a fairmodel of the organization of political power in China”. Communist partieshave no defined system of selection process to their top posts in the rulingpolitical bureau (politburo). As a result the presence of internal politickingas groups and factions fought for control over party’s command-and –control capability.
Lacking a clear succession procedure and recognized limitsto its authority, communist rule could always-though actuallyit did not- degenerate into personal dictatorship. In theformer Soviet Union for example, Stalin’s success inconsolidating his control of the party in the 1920s ended himto institute a personal despotism in which million of people,including many from within the party itself fell victim to thegreat terror of 1937 to 1938 (Harrop, 2001) Soviet Unionalready disintegrated in the early 1990s.
Under communism, the political party attained itstwentieth century pinnacle, with Lenin’s thesis of theVanguard Party rationalizing communist power ofboth the state and society. In Fascism, the politicalparty assumed a secondary spot, becoming a vehicleof a dominant leadership and eventually an adjunctof a system of rule that was both personal and statecentered.
Fascist parties failed to attain the level of power and controlover state and society, the way communist states do. InFascism like Italy under Benito Mussolini, and Hitler ofGermany, the Fascist party served its leader, not he leaderserving the party. Fascist thinking was oriented to the leadersof the state. Hence, the relevance of political parties intotalitarian states is not an issue that can be addressed withoutacknowledging the crucial differences between Fascists andCommunist states.
Challenge Confronting PartiesThe growing distrust on political parties is anchored on gravesuspicion whether party politics in contemporary times couldsolve real issues not only of political importance but more ofthe social ramifications going overboard. As democracyworks the search for cohesion and consensus to satisfy man’spolitical and moral nature would continue to persist and eventhe clamors for higher tools or instruments in the emergingprocesses of social movements.
Traditionally Thomas Jefferson had once doubted therelevance of political parties. To him parties would not onlybreed discontentment in the process but would graduallydamage the fiber of social unity and magnify conflicts amongthe people. Stuart Mill on his personal note argued thatfaction politics would only suppress the freedom ofexpression, of thought and the politics of individualconscience.
The decline of political parties may be seen from the failureof their leaders to become effective representatives of thepeople in connecting their interests progressively with thegovernment. Not to mention the crisis within the party wheremembers are slowly withdrawing support only to find them inanother party affiliates, party switching and turncoatism.Party loyalty and principles in the process became poorsecondary to personal interests.
The rise of new political movements ushered in a new era of antipoliticsthe principal attraction of which is that they are untainted by having heldpower like the women’s movement and cause- oriented groups (pro- lifegroup, environmentalists, civil right advocates). Even if they articulatetheir views through party organizations, these movements have never beentoo personal to advance politics, yet emphasizing popular mobilizationwith a cause that is devoid of power politics. Social movements may beviewed as peoples’ group that set out subvert traditional politics byabandoning parliamentary compromise.
Political parties become too oligarchical in character. Theybecome too rigid and bureaucratic political machines whosemembers are wither passive or ceremonial in attendingmeetings, getting publicity for media mileage and so on.Thus, political parties become too engrossed in enhancingtheir images by establishing political clout to hardened andtraditional politicians. Eventually, leaders end up as corrupt,ambitious and perverted.
Another reason that explains the decline of partypolitics in modern times is that party leaders becometoo mechanically promising in their campaignactivities to win power. Members and the publicalike turn into disillusionment as party leaders theyonce trusted turn out to be more of a liability as theymiserably fail to deliver once in government.
Towards this end, interest groups and othersocial movements emerge to complement, ifnot to replace, political parties in buildingresponsible and more conscientious citizenryby expressing their varied interests in a rathersimplistic but more effective approach.
Next: Part XInternational Relations with Foreign Policy basics