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A dominant-party system, or one-party dominant system, is a system where there is "a category of parties/political organisations that have successively won election victories and whose future defeat cannot be envisaged or is unlikely for the foreseeable future."[1] Many are de facto one-party systems, and often devolve into de jure one-party systems. Usually, the dominant party consistently holds majority government, without the need for coalitions.

Examples commonly cited include: United Russia (ЕP) in Russia, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) in Serbia, Fidesz in Hungary, Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) in Montenegro, the People's Action Party (PAP) in Singapore, the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, Awami League in Bangladesh, MPLA in Angola, the ZANU–PF in Zimbabwe, Chama Cha Mapinduzi in Tanzania and the Cambodian People's Party in Cambodia.[1][additional citation(s) needed]

Historical overviewEdit

Opponents of the "dominant party" system or 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.[1] One author 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, electoral politics and hostile to 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."[1]

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."[1] However, in some countries this is common practice even when there is no dominant party.[1] In contrast to one-party systems, dominant-party systems can occur within a context of a democratic system. 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). 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.

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. In some cases outright electoral fraud keeps the opposition from power. On the other hand, 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. 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. 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. 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 1994) has strong support amongst Black South Africans and the Ulster Unionist Party governed Northern Ireland from its creation in 1921 until 1972 with the support of the Protestant majority.

Sub-national entities are often dominated by one party due the area's demographic being on one end of the spectrum. 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 Progressive Conservatives from 1971–2015. 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.

Current dominant-party systemsEdit





Federally, a multi-party system exists, although only two federal parties have ever formed a majority government, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party. However, in some provinces, a party holds hegemonic status over all other parties.

United StatesEdit

  United States

As a whole, the nation has a two-party system, with the main parties since the mid-19th century being Democratic Party and the Republican Party. However, some states and cities have been dominated by one of these parties for up to several decades. Generally, the Democratic Party dominate in the urban metropolitan areas, while the Republican Party dominate in the rural areas. Following the 2018 elections, the Republican Party continued to hold a majority of State Legislatures and a majority of Governorships. However the Democratic Party won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, while the Republican Party increased their majority in the Senate, resulting in a split Congress. As a consequence of Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 elections, the Republican Party also controls the Presidency.

Dominated by the Democratic Party:

Dominated by the Republican Party:

  •   Alabama: dominated by Republicans since the mid-1990s.
  •   Idaho has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, with no Democratic governors since 1994 and only two years in which the State Senate was tied evenly since 1960.
  •   Kansas has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, with only four years of Democratic majorities in the State House of Representatives since 1915 and only Republican majorities in the same period. Since 1967, however, five of the last nine governors have been Democrats, although one of these Democrats only held office for two years.[8]
  •   Louisiana is dominated by the Republicans. New Orleans, however, has been dominated by the Democratic Party since the 19th century.
  •   Mississippi: dominated by Republicans since the mid-1990s.
  •   Nebraska has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, with a non-partisan legislature (where a de facto Republican majority has held since records began in 2007), mostly Republican governors and elected cabinet officials and only one Republican who changed party to Democrat in 2006 holding state-level partisan office since 1999.
  •   South Carolina: dominated by Republicans since the mid-1990s.
  •   South Dakota has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, aside from a few Democratic and Populist governments and coalitions with Republicans, with only three elected high officials and two years of State Senate dominance since 1979.
  •   Texas: dominated by Republicans since the mid-1990s.
  •   Utah has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, except for Democratic dominance during the Fifth Party System and between 1917 and 1920, the 1890s, and between 1959 and 1984.
  •   Wyoming has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, with only four years where a house of the legislature has been Democratic since 1939, and mostly Republican governors during that period.

Dominant-party systems can also exist on native reservations with republican forms of government. The Seneca Nation of Indians, a tribe with territory within the bounds of New York State, has had the Seneca Party as the dominant party in its political system for several decades.

Asia and OceaniaEdit



Former dominant partiesEdit

North AmericaEdit

Caribbean and Central AmericaEdit

South AmericaEdit





  •   Australia: The Liberal Party (generally in coalition with the National Party) held power federally from 1949 to 1972 and from 1975 to 1983 (31 out of 34 years). By the scheduled expiry of the 46th Parliament in 2022, the Liberal-National Coalition will have held power for 20 out of the 26 years between 1996 and 2022.
    •   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).
    •   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 Liberal Party held power from 1955 to 1982 (27 years).
    •   Western Australia: The Liberal Party held power from 1947 to 1983 with two one-term interruptions between 1953 to 1956 and 1971 to 1974 (30 out 36 years).
  •   New Zealand: National held power in New Zealand from 1949 to 1984 with two one-term interruptions between 1957 to 1960 and 1972 to 1975 (29 out of 35 years).


  1. ^ Presidents in Singapore are not allowed to belong to any party.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b Formerly its predecessors Italian Socialist Party (before 1924), PCI, PDS and DS.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Suttner, R. (2006), "Party dominance 'theory': Of what value?", Politikon 33 (3), pp. 277-297
  2. ^ Mehler, Andreas; Melber, Henning; Van Walraven, Klaas (2009). Africa Yearbook: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2008. Leiden: Brill. p. 411. ISBN 978-90-04-17811-3.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2012-04-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (in English)
  4. ^ Doorenspleet, Renske; Nijzink, Lia (2014). Party Systems and Democracy in Africa. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-137-01170-1.
  5. ^ "Botswana's ruling Democratic Party wins general elections". BBC News. BBC. 26 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  6. ^ O'Gorman, Melanie (26 April 2012). "Why the CCM won't lose: the roots of single-party dominance in Tanzania". Journal of Contemporary African Studies. 30 (2): 313–333. CiteSeerX doi:10.1080/02589001.2012.669566.
  7. ^ Archived 2015-09-04 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "State of Kansas Governors". Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2011-03-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ 2010 Human Rights Report: Samoa, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, April 8, 2011
  11. ^ "Singapore Elections Department - Parliamentary Election Results". Archived from the original on 2015-09-10. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  12. ^ "Singapore Elections Department - 2011 Parliamentary Election Results". Archived from the original on 19 January 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  13. ^ "TURKEY - AKP ushering in 'dominant-party system', says expert". Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Turkey Under the AKP: The Era of Dominant-Party Politics". 2012-01-19. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Dresden, Cornelius Pollmer (2014-08-31). "CDU sucht nach einem neuen Partner".
  17. ^ Grétar Thor Eythórsson, Detlef Jahn (2009), "Das politische System Islands", Die Politischen Systeme Westeuropas (in German) (4., aktualisierte und überarbeitete ed.), Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, p. 200, ISBN 978-3-531-16464-9
  18. ^ "Labour are on course to retain their dominance in Wales, according to our latest poll".
  19. ^ "It's no fluke poll - Labour is heading for a landslide in Wales".
  20. ^ Jones, Richard Wyn (2016-05-06). "How Welsh Labour became the UK's most invincible electoral machine | Richard Wyn Jones". The Guardian.
  21. ^ "The Guardian view on the election in Scotland: A pivotal poll for the SNP | Editorial". The Guardian. 2017-05-19.
  22. ^ Canada's 'natural governing party'. CBC News in Depth, 4 December 2006. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  23. ^ "Bundestagswahlen - Baden-Württemberg".
  24. ^ "Wahlen zum Europäischen Parlament in Baden-Württemberg".
  25. ^ "Landtagswahlen im Saarland seit 1945".
  26. ^ "Landtagswahlen 1918-1933 - Saargebiet".
  27. ^ "Reichstagswahlen 1919-1933 - Westpreußen, Posen, Aurich, Hannover, Hamburg-Bremen".
  28. ^ "Bundestagswahlen - Saarland".
  29. ^ "Wahlen zum Europäischen Parlament im Saarland".
  30. ^[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ "Subscribe to read".
  32. ^ Cairney, Paul; McGarvey, Neil (2013). Scottish Politics. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan Limited. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-230-39046-1.
  33. ^ Garnett, Mark; Lynch, Philip (2007). Exploring British Politics. London: Pearson Education. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-582-89431-0.
  34. ^ Johari, J. C. (1997). Indian Political System: a Critical Study of the Constitutional Structure and the Emerging Trends of Indian Politics. New Delhi: Anmol Publications. p. 250. ISBN 978-81-7488-162-5.