Dominant-party system

(Redirected from Dominant-party state)

A dominant-party system, or one-party dominant system, is a political occurrence in which a single political party continuously dominates election results over running opposition groups or parties.[1] Any ruling party staying in power for more than one consecutive term may be considered a dominant party (also referred to as a predominant or hegemonic party).[2] Some dominant parties were called the natural governing party, given their length of time in power.[3][4][5]

Dominant parties, and their domination of a state, develop out of one-sided electoral and party constellations within a multi-party system (particularly under presidential systems of governance), and as such differ from states under a one-party system, which are intricately organized around a specific party.[citation needed] Sometimes the term "de facto one-party state" is used to describe dominant-party systems which, unlike a one-party system, allows (at least nominally) democratic multiparty elections, but the existing practices or balance of political power effectively prevent the opposition from winning power, thus resembling a one-party state.[citation needed] Dominant-party systems differ from the political dynamics of other dominant multi-party constellations such as consociationalism, grand coalitions and two-party systems, which are characterized and sustained by narrow or balanced competition and cooperation.[citation needed]

In political literature, more than 130 dominant party systems between 1950 and 2017 were included in a list by A. A. Ostroverkhov.[6] For example, in the post-Soviet states, researchers classify parties such as United Russia and Amanat (Kazakhstan) as dominant parties on the basis that these parties have long held the majority of seats in parliament (although they do not directly form the government or appoint officials to government positions).[7] In Russian political science literature, such associations are often called "parties of power."[citation needed]

It is believed that a system with a dominant party can be either authoritarian or democratic. However, since there is no consensus in the global political science community on a set of mandatory features of democracy (for example, there is a point of view according to which the absence of alternation of power is, in principle, incompatible with democratic norms),[8] it is difficult to separate the two types of one-party dominance.[9]

Theory edit

Dominant-party systems are commonly based on majority rule for proportional representation or majority boosting in semi-proportional representation.[citation needed] Plurality voting systems can result in large majorities for a party with a lower percentage of the vote than in proportional representation systems due to a fractured opposition (resulting in wasted votes and a lower number of parties entering the legislature) and gerrymandering.[citation needed]

Critics of the "dominant party" theory argue that it views the meaning of democracy as given, and that it assumes that only a particular conception of representative democracy (in which different parties alternate frequently in power) is valid.[10] Raymond Suttner, himself a former leader of the African National Congress (ANC), argues that "the dominant party 'system' is deeply flawed as a mode of analysis and lacks explanatory capacity. But it is also a very conservative approach to politics. Its fundamental political assumptions are restricted to one form of democracy, namely electoral politics, and display hostility towards popular politics. This is manifest in the obsession with the quality of electoral opposition, and its sidelining or ignoring of popular political activity organised in other ways. The assumption in this approach is that other forms of organisation and opposition are of limited importance or a separate matter from the consolidation of their version of democracy."[10][non-primary source needed][excessive quote]

One of the dangers of dominant parties is "the tendency of dominant parties to conflate party and state and to appoint party officials to senior positions irrespective of their having the required qualities."[10] However, in some countries this is common practice even when there is no dominant party.[10] In contrast to one-party systems, dominant-party systems can occur within a context of a democratic system as well as an authoritarian one.[citation needed] In a one-party system other parties are banned, but in dominant-party systems other political parties are tolerated, and (in democratic dominant-party systems) operate without overt legal impediment, but do not have a realistic chance of winning; the dominant party genuinely wins the votes of the vast majority of voters every time (or, in authoritarian systems, claims to).[citation needed] Under authoritarian dominant-party systems, which may be referred to as "electoralism" or "soft authoritarianism", opposition parties are legally allowed to operate, but are too weak or ineffective to seriously challenge power, perhaps through various forms of corruption, constitutional quirks that intentionally undermine the ability for an effective opposition to thrive, institutional and/or organizational conventions that support the status quo, occasional but not omnipresent political repression, or inherent cultural values averse to change.[citation needed]

In some states opposition parties are subject to varying degrees of official harassment and most often deal with restrictions on free speech (such as press laws), lawsuits against the opposition, and rules or electoral systems (such as gerrymandering of electoral districts) designed to put them at a disadvantage.[citation needed] In some cases outright electoral fraud keeps the opposition from power.[citation needed] However, some dominant-party systems occur, at least temporarily, in countries that are widely seen, both by their citizens and outside observers, to be textbook examples of democracy.[citation needed] An example of a genuine democratic dominant-party system would be the pre-Emergency India, which was almost universally viewed by all as being a democratic state, even though the only major national party at that time was the Indian National Congress.[citation needed] The reasons why a dominant-party system may form in such a country are often debated: supporters of the dominant party tend to argue that their party is simply doing a good job in government and the opposition continuously proposes unrealistic or unpopular changes, while supporters of the opposition tend to argue that the electoral system disfavors them (for example because it is based on the principle of first past the post), or that the dominant party receives a disproportionate amount of funding from various sources and is therefore able to mount more persuasive campaigns.[citation needed] In states with ethnic issues, one party may be seen as being the party for an ethnicity or race with the party for the majority ethnic, racial or religious group dominating, e.g., the African National Congress in South Africa (governing since the end of apartheid in 1994) has strong support amongst Bantu peoples of South Africa and the Ulster Unionist Party governed Northern Ireland from its creation in 1921 until 1972 with the support of the Protestant majority.[citation needed] Similarly, the Apartheid-era National Party in South Africa had the support of Afrikaners who make up the majority of White South Africans while English-speaking white South Africans tended towards more liberal and reform-oriented parties like the Progressive Federal Party.[citation needed]

Sub-national entities are often dominated by one party due to the area's demographic being on one end of the spectrum or espousing a unique local identity.[citation needed] For example, the current elected government of the District of Columbia has been governed by Democrats since its creation in the 1970s, Bavaria by the Christian Social Union since 1957, Madeira by the Social Democrats since 1976, and Alberta by the Progressive Conservatives from 1971 to 2015. On the other hand, where the dominant party rules nationally on a genuinely democratic basis, the opposition may be strong in one or more subnational areas, possibly even constituting a dominant party locally; an example is South Africa, where although the African National Congress is dominant at the national level, the opposition Democratic Alliance is strong to dominant in the Province of Western Cape.[citation needed]

Methods of dominant-party governments edit

In dominant-party governments, they use institutional channels, rather than repression, to influence the population.[11] Coercive distribution can control citizens and economic elites through land reform, poverty alleviation, public health, housing, education, and employment programs.[12] Further, they distribute private goods to the winning coalition (people who are necessary for its reign) in order to stay in power.[13] Giving the winning coalition private goods also prevents civil conflict.[14] They also use the education system to teach and uphold compliance. The recruiting, disciplining, and training of teachers allow for authoritarian governments to control teachers into following their objective: to foster compliance from the youth.[15] Another way that they maintain control is through hosting elections. Even though they would not be fair elections, hosting them allows citizens to feel that they have some control and a political outlet.[16] They can also enhance rule within their own state through international collaboration, by supporting and gaining the support, especially economic support, of other similar governments.[17]

Current dominant-party systems edit

Africa edit

Americas edit

Asia and Oceania edit

Eurasia edit

Europe edit

Formerly dominant parties edit

North America edit

Caribbean and Central America edit

South America edit

Europe edit

Asia edit

Africa edit

Oceania edit

  •   Australia: The Liberal Party (generally in a near-permanent Coalition with the National Party) held power federally from 1949 to 1972 and from 1975 to 1983 (31 out of 34 years). After the expiry of the 46th Parliament in 2022, the Liberal-National Coalition held power for 20 out of the 26 years between 1996 and 2022. Overall from 1949 to 2022, the Liberal Party held power for 52 out of 73 years. The longest-serving Prime Minister was Robert Menzies, who served from 1939 to 1941 (2 years) as a member of the United Australia Party, and from 1949 to 1966 (16 years) as leader of the Liberal Party.
    •   Northern Territory: The Country Liberal Party held power from the granting of self-government in 1978 to 2001 (23 years).
    •   New South Wales: The Labor Party held power from 1941 to 1965 (24 years), and from 1976 to 1988 and 1995 to 2011 (28 out of 35 years) – in total 52 out of 70 years from 1941 to 2011.
    •   Queensland: The Labor Party held power from 1915 to 1929 and from 1932 to 1957 (39 out of 42 years). The National Party then held power from 1957 to 1989 (32 years) with and without the Liberal Party. These were facilitated by a Labor-designed malapportionment that favoured rural districts. The National Party under Joh Bjelke-Petersen increased the malapportionment with the Bjelkemander, allowing them to rule alone without the Liberals, and used the police to suppress dissent and opposition from Labor. The National Party dominance was ended by a corruption inquiry, Bjelke-Petersen was forced to resign in disgrace, and police and politicians were charged with crimes. Since 1989, Labor has held government aside from a National Party government (1996 to 1998) and Liberal-National Party government (2012 to 2015) (28 years of Labor government out of 33 years).
    •   South Australia: The Liberal and Country League held power from 1933 to 1965 (32 years). The Labor Party held power from 1970 to 1979, from 1982 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2018 (26 out of 38 years).
    •   Tasmania: The Labor Party held power from 1934 to 1969 and from 1972 to 1982 (45 out of 48 years), from 1989 to 1992, and from 1998 to 2014 (16 years) – in total 64 out of 80 years from 1934 to 2014.
    •   Victoria: The National Citizens' Reform League (1902–1909), the Deakinite Liberal Party (1909–1917) and the Nationalist Party (1917–1924) consecutively held power from 1902 to 1924 (22 years). The Country Party then ruled from 1924 to 1927 (3 years), followed by the Nationalist Party from 1928 to 1929 (1 year) in a coalition. The Country Party and the United Australia Party (later as the Liberal and Country Party) held power with and without a coalition from 1932 to 1945 (13 years) and 1947 to 1952 (5 years). The Liberal Party then held power from 1955 to 1982 (27 years). In total, centre-right governments ruled 71 out of 80 years from 1902 to 1982.
    •   Western Australia: The Liberal Party held power from 1947 to 1983 with two one-term interruptions between 1953 and 1956 and 1971 to 1974 (30 out of 36 years).
    •   Australian Capital Territory: The Labor Party has held power since 2001 (in coalition with the ACT Greens since 2012), previously holding government between 1989 and 1995 (24 years out of 30 years since self-government).
  •   New Zealand: The Liberal Party governed from 1891 to 1912.
  •   Samoa: The Human Rights Protection Party governed from 1982 to 2021.

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Presidents in Singapore are not allowed to belong to any party
  2. ^ a b c The predecessors of the ÖVP are the Christian Social Party ruled from 1907 to the renaming 1933 and the Fatherland Front ruled from 1933 to the Anschluss 1938.
  3. ^ a b Formerly its predecessors PSI (before 1924), PCI, PDS and DS.
  4. ^ a b Formerly its predecessor People's Alliance (before 1989).
  5. ^ Formerly its predecessors People's Labor Party (with SHP), People's Democracy Party, Democratic People's Party, Thousand Hope Candidates and Labour, Democracy and Freedom Bloc.

References edit

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