In politics, a big tent or catch-all party is a type of political party that seeks to attract voters from different points of view and ideologies. This is in contrast to other parties that defend a determined ideology and seek voters who adhere to that ideology and convince people towards it.
At the federal level, Canada has been dominated by two big tent parties practicing "brokerage politics".[a] Both the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada (or its predecessors) rely on attracting supports from a broad spectrum of voters. Far-right and far-left politics have never been a prominent force in Canadian society.
Both the Christian Democratic Union of Germany/Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) are considered big tent or catch-all parties, known in German as Volksparteien ("people's parties").
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are considered catch-all parties, both being supported by people from different social classes and political ideologies. Both parties are however usually described as being very similar, and are positioned on the centre-right with a liberal conservative ideology. The reason they remain separate is due mainly to historical factors, with those who supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty in the 1920s eventually becoming Fine Gael, and those opposed would join Fianna Fáil and seek an independent Ireland.
In Italy, the Five Star Movement led by comedian and actor Beppe Grillo has been described as a catch-all, protest party and "post-ideological big tent" because its supporters do not share similar policy preferences, are split on major economic and social issues and are united largely based on "anti-establishment" sentiments. The Five Star Movement's "successful campaign formula combined anti-establishment sentiments with an economic and political protest which extends beyond the boundaries of traditional political orientations", yet its "'catch-all' formula" has limited its ability to become "a mature, functional, effective and coherent contender for government". The Northern League attracted voters in its early years from all the political spectrum. Forza Italia on the centre-right and the Democratic Party on the centre-left are considered catch-all parties, both having been formed from mergers of political parties with numerous ideological backgrounds.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which held power in Mexico for 71 uninterrupted years from 1929 to 2000 was founded following the Mexican Revolution. Mexican president Plutarco Elías Calles founded the PRI, then known as the National Revolutionary Party, in 1929 with the intent of providing a political space in which all the surviving leaders and combatants of the Mexican Revolution could participate, and to solve the grave political crisis caused by the assassination of president-elect Álvaro Obregón in 1928. Throughout its nine-decade existence, the PRI has adopted a very wide array of ideologies (often determined by the President of the Republic in turn). It nationalized the petroleum industry in the 1940s and the banking industry in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the party went through reforms that shaped its current incarnation, with policies characterized as centre-right, such as the privatization of State-run companies, closer relations with the Catholic church, and embracing free-market capitalism and neoliberal policies.
The National Regeneration Movement, founded by the current president of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has often been described as a big tent party due to its various constituents that joined its ranks during the 2018 general elections.
Citizens, or simply "Cs" (Ciudadanos, in Spanish) has been considered as an example of astroturfing in the Spanish media since 2015. Originally founded as a social democratic regional party opposed to Catalan nationalism, it switched to a catch-all message in order to attract votes from the right to the moderate left in its appearance in the national political landscape. Its stance includes a mix of liberalism and pro-Europeanism, but the party has also embraced populist views on the legitimacy of its political opponents, conservative views on topics such as the criminal system and personal property and Spanish nationalist positions without many problems by its own leader, Albert Rivera, becoming one of the most recognisable "catch-all" parties in the history of the country. In the mid 2010s, however, the party's main ideology is perceived to have drifted towards the right, with Albert Rivera admitting that they would not agree to form a coalition with the two main centre-left and left parties after the 2019 Spanish general elections, regardless of the results. In addition to this, some commentators argue that after the 2019 Spanish general election, Ciudadanos has attempted to become the hegemonic party of the right in the place of the People's Party, which suffered from massive loses in vote percentage and seats in the Congress of Deputies, thus contributing to its shift to the right. Similarly, in the regional parliaments CS has allied with both the People's Party and also with the extreme right-wing party Vox to achieve coalitions. Thus giving rise to the expression "the three rights" while defining their opposition as "the left".
The Brazilian Democratic Movement is a centrist and big tent party, and is the biggest party in Brazil.
When Gordon Brown became British Prime Minister in 2007, he invited several members from outside the Labour Party into his government. These included former CBI Director-General Digby Jones who became a Minister of State and former Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown who was offered the position of Northern Ireland Secretary (Ashdown turned down the offer). The media often referred to Brown's ministry as "a government of all the talents" or simply "Brown's big tent".
The Brexit Party, founded by Nigel Farage, may be considered a single-issue big tent party as it ran candidates in the 2019 European Parliament election from across the political spectrum, including conservative Ann Widdecombe and former communist Claire Fox.
In Scotland, the Scottish National Party is possibly the longest established big tent party in the UK, with the goal of seeking Scottish independence by those that support various other political ideologies and from various political positions.
The Democratic Party during the New Deal coalition, formed in support of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies from 1930s until 1960s, was a "big-tent" party. This coalition brought together labor unions, working-class voters, farm organizations, liberals, Southern Democrats, African Americans, urban voters and immigrants.
The Blue Dog Coalition is a big-tent caucus of centrist and conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives, some being socially conservative and fiscally and economically progressive or vice versa. For a brief period following the 2006 and 2008 elections, when Democrats held a majority in the House, this caucus wielded increased influence over the party, but its power declined again after a large majority of its members were defeated or retired in the 2010 election. Its Republican counterpart is the Republican Main Street Partnership.
In counter to the New Deal coalition, the Republican Party was for much of its history a "big tent" party that encompassed a wide range of right-wing and center-right causes, including a wide range of politicians who were fiscally conservative and socially moderate or liberal and vice versa. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Republican party attracted support from wealthy suburban voters in the South and Midwest, Northeastern moderates, Western libertarians, and rural conservatives across the country. From 1968 to 1988, Republicans won five out of six presidential elections, with the only exception being a narrow loss to Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976. The culture wars of the 1990s and the growing influence of the Christian right within the party prompted the socially moderate and liberal sections of the Republican base, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest, to begin slowly leaving the party in favor of moderate Democrats or independents. As a result, Republicans have lost the national popular vote in six out of seven presidential elections since 1992, while winning narrow Electoral College victories three times. However, moderate Republicans continued to thrive at the state level until the dawn of the 21st century.
Following the 1974 Dallas Accord, the Libertarian Party embraced the big tent idea to the extent it ensured that the anarchist-capitalist views would not be excluded from the majority minarchist party.
- ANO 2011, Czech Republic
- Austrian People's Party
- Kurdistan Democratic Party, Kurdistan
- Blue and White, Israel
- Brazilian Democratic Movement, Brazil
- Christian Democracy, Italy (1943–1994)
- Christian Democratic Union of Germany
- Civic Platform, Poland
- Democratic Montenegro
- Democratic Opposition of Serbia (2000–2003)
- Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro
- Fianna Fáil, Republic of Ireland
- Five Star Movement, Italy
- Georgian Dream
- Indian National Congress
- Institutional Revolutionary Party, Mexico
- Islamic Iran Participation Front
- Joint List, Israel
- La République En Marche!, France
- Liberal Democratic Party, Japan
- March 8 Alliance, Lebanon
- March 14 Alliance, Lebanon
- National Coalition Party, Finland
- National Democratic Party, Egypt (1978–2011)
- National Regeneration Movement, Mexico
- Nidaa Tounes Tunisia
- Nur Otan, Kazakhstan
- People's Front for Democracy and Justice, Eritrea
- Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
- Scottish National Party, Scotland 
- Social Democratic Party, Portugal
- Social Democratic Party of Germany
- Socialist Party, Portugal
- South Tyrolean People's Party
- United Russia, Russia
- Together for Yes, Ireland
- All Progressives Congress, Nigeria
- Human Shield, Croatia
- Democratic Unity Roundtable, Venezuela
- New Azerbaijan Party, Azerbaijan
- Arab Socialist Union, Egypt (1962–1978)
- Freedom Party, Egypt
- Conference Party, Egypt
- Cambodian People's Party
- Save Romania Union
- Democratic Party, Italy
- Cambiemos Argentina
- National Opposition Union, Nicaragua
- Together for Yes, Spain
- Cameroon People's Democratic Movement
- National Revolutionary Party Afghanistan (1974–1978)
- Nacionalista Party, Philippines
- Coalition for Change, Philippines
- Reformists, Iran
- Coalition for a European Montenegro (1998–2016)
- General People's Congress, Yemen
- Republican Party of Armenia
- Serbian Progressive Party
- European Coalition, Poland
- Brokerage politics: "A Canadian term for successful big tent parties that embody a pluralistic catch-all approach to appeal to the median Canadian voter ... adopting centrist policies and electoral coalitions to satisfy the short-term preferences of a majority of electors who are not located on the ideological fringe."
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two historically dominant political parties have avoided ideological appeals in favour of a flexible centrist style of politics that is often labelled "brokerage politics"
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...most Canadian governments, especially at the federal level, have taken a moderate, centrist approach to decision making, seeking to balance growth, stability, and governmental efficiency and economy...
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Canada's party system has long been described as a “brokerage system” in which the leading parties (Liberal and Conservative) follow strategies that appeal across major social cleavages in an effort to defuse potential tensions.
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First Past the Post in Canada has favoured broadly-based, accommodative, centrist parties...
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Morena’s star has risen so quickly because it offers refuge to such a wide range of beliefs and ideologies. The party has room for old guard supporters of Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, young leftist academics, former PRI leaders, evangelical Christians, actors, athletes, and even the odd business tycoon or two. In this way the party resembles the big tent of the PRI, which more than a guiding philosophy was guided by the administration of political power.
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In a few months, he has assembled a coalition stretching from socially conservative Christian evangelicals to admirers of socialist Venezuela and business tycoons, each with contrasting visions for Mexico. Dozens of lawmakers from across the political spectrum have switched sides to join Lopez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), a party that is not yet four years old.
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...GD as a catch-all movement...
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