Political party

Template:Political parties A political party is a political organization that subscribes to a certain ideology and seeks to attain political power within a government. The party's policies often represent an aggregation of interests within the party, which will inevitably vary considerably even between party members. In certain electoral situations, more common in elections using proportional representation than First Past the Post, a government may be formed of more than one party, called a coalition government.

In Parliamentary systems of government, most political parties have an elected leader, who if his/her party is elected becomes head of government. In Presidential systems, especially those with full separation of powers there may not be a formal leader.

Partisanship is the tendency of supporters of political parties to subscribe to or at least support their party's views and policies in contrast to that other parties. Differentiation is essential to most political parties: they must be different at least in some ways to other parties to compete in politics and win elections. Extreme partisanship is sometimes referred to as partisan warfare.


Single-party, two-party, and multi-party governments

In single-party systems, only one political party is legally allowed to hold effective power. Although minor parties may sometimes be allowed, they are legally required to accept the leadership of the dominant party. This party may not always be, however, identical to the government, although sometimes positions within the party may in fact be more important than positions within the government.

In Dominant-party systems, opposition parties are allowed, and there may be even a deeply established democratic tradition, but other parties are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. Sometimes, political, social and economic circumstances, and public opinion are the reason for others parties' failure. Sometimes, typically in countries with less of an established democratic tradition, it is possible the dominant party will remain in power by using patronage and sometimes by voting fraud. In the latter case, the definition between Dominant and single-party system becomes rather blurred. Examples of dominant party systems include the People's Action Party in Singapore. Also, one party dominant systems existed in Mexico with the Institutional Revolutionary Party until the 1990's, and in the southern United States with the Democratic Party from the 1880s until the 1970s.

Two-party systems are states such as the United States and Jamaica in which there are two dominant political parties, with extreme difficulty for anybody to achieve electoral success under the banner of any other party. In two-party states political parties are traditionally catch all parties which are ideologically broad and inclusive. One right wing coalition party and one left wing coalition party is the most common ideological breakdown in such a system. The relationship between the voting system used and the two-party system was described by Maurice Duverger and is known as Duverger's Law.

A poster for the European Parliament election 2004 in Italy, showing party lists
A poster for the European Parliament election 2004 in Italy, showing party lists

Multi-party systems are systems in which there are multiple parties.

In nations such as Canada and the United Kingdom, there may be two strong parties, with a third party that is electorally successful. The party may frequently come in second place in elections and poses a threat to the other two parties, but has still never formally held government.

In some rare cases, such as in Finland, the nation may have an active three-party system, in which all three parties routinely hold top office. It is very rare for a country to have more than three parties who are all equally successful, and all have an equal chance of independently forming government.

More commonly, in cases where there are numerous parties, no one party often has a chance of gaining power, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments. This has been an emerging trend in the politics of the Republic of Ireland.

Parties and directions

Political parties are often considered on a political spectrum. One typical spectrum has the Left associated with radical or progressive policies and the Right with conservative or traditional policies. Other analyses include other dimensions such as the political parties' acceptance of parliamentary democracy as opposed to authoritarian or totalitarian attitudes, and economic policies, the Left favoring social-democracy, socialism or communism, while the Right tends to favor laissez-faire economics. Centrist parties often adopt a collection of policies that defy easy placing on the political spectrum.

Many parties will have (formal or informal) factions within them that have differing views on policy direction.

Colors and emblems for parties

Main article: see political colour

Generally speaking, over the world, political parties associate themselves with colors, primarily for identification, especially for voter recognition during elections. Red usually signifies leftist, communist or socialist parties. Conservative and Christian democratic parties generally use blue or black. Recently in the United States, this trend has been reversed. Pink sometimes signifies socialist. Yellow is often used for liberalism. Green is the color for green parties and Islamist parties. Orange is sometimes a color of nationalism, such as in The Netherlands, or is a color of reform such as in Ukraine. In the past, Purple was considered the color of royalty, but is rarely used in modern-day political parties. Brown is generally associated with fascist or neofascist parties, going back to the Nazi Party's brownshirt security guards.

Color associations are useful for mnemonics when voter illiteracy is significant. Another use case is when it is not desirable to make rigorous links to parties, particularly when coalitions and alliances are formed between political parties and other organizations, for example: Red Tory, "Purple" (Red-Blue) alliances, Red-Green Alliances, Blue-Green Alliances, Pan-green coalitions, and Pan-blue coalitions.

The emblem of socialist parties is often a red rose held in a fist. Communist parties often use a hammer, a sickle, or both.

International organizations of political parties

During the 19th and 20th century, many national political parties organized themselves into international organizations along similar policy lines. Notable examples are the International Workingmen's Association (also called the First International), the Socialist International (also called the Second International), the Communist International, (also called the Third International), and the Fourth International, as organizations of Working class parties, or the Liberal International (yellow), and the International Democrat Union (blue). Worldwide green parties have recently established the Global Greens. The Socialist International, the Liberal International, and the International Democrat Union are all based in London.

See also

External links

bg:Партия br:Sindikad ca:Partit poltic cy:Plaid wleidyddol da:Politisk parti de:Politische Partei eo:Partio (politiko) es:Partido poltico et:Erakond fr:Parti politique id:Partai politik is:Stjrnmlaflokkur it:Partito politico he:מפלגה ko:정당 lt:Partija nl:Politieke partij ja:政党 pl:Partia polityczna pt:Partido poltico simple:Political party sl:Politična stranka fi:Puolue sv:Politiskt parti zh:政党


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