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Unit-7 Party System Notes | BA Hons Notes Semester 2 CCPA


  • Political parties contest elections to hold power and represent common interests based on ideology.

  • They mobilize voters, set agendas, and define representation.

  • Competition between parties creates pressure for performance.

  • Parties in power and opposition provide a checks and balance system.

  • European scholars like James Bryce and Moisey Ostrogorsky developed the concept of party systems.

  • Political parties represent people's voice to the government for policymaking.

  • Essential for articulating party agenda and ideology. Charismatic leaders can significantly impact party systems.

  • Stimulate and promote the party's ideology among the masses, often dedicated to the party's development.

  • Strong supporters of the party's ideology, expect it to be reflected in policies. They form the party's base of support.


Functions of Political Parties

  • Contesting Elections: Parties not only field candidates but also mobilize support for them, engaging in campaign activities and outreach efforts.

  • Candidate Selection: The process varies; in the USA, candidates are selected through primaries and caucuses involving party members and supporters, while in countries like India, party leaders play a central role in candidate selection.

  • Policy and Program Differences: Parties offer distinct policy platforms, giving voters a choice based on their ideological preferences.

  • Ideological Direction: Parties with similar ideologies provide a direction to government policies, reflecting the values and beliefs of their supporters.

  • Opposition Role: Opposition parties critique the ruling party's policies, hold them accountable, and propose alternative policies, maintaining a check on government power.

  • Shaping Public Opinion: Parties play a significant role in shaping public opinion through their campaigns, media presence, and advocacy efforts.

  • Local Welfare Schemes: Local parties often focus on grassroots issues and act as intermediaries between citizens and government officials, advocating for local welfare schemes and addressing community concerns.


Types of Political Parties

  • Two-Party System: Characterized by two dominant parties competing for power, often leading to a more stable political environment but potentially limiting alternative viewpoints. Example: United States with the Democratic and Republican parties.

  • Multi-Party System: Allows for a greater diversity of political opinions and representation but can result in coalition governments and potentially unstable governance. Example: Germany with multiple parties like CDU, SPD, Green Party, and others.

  • Single-Party System: Features a single dominant party that governs unopposed or with limited opposition, often associated with authoritarian regimes. Example: Communist Party of China in China.

One-Party System

  • A political system where one party holds power, and other political parties are either prohibited or limited in their activities.

  • One-party systems often arise in countries with strong ideological movements or nationalist sentiments, seeking unity and stability.

  • Advantages:

  • Efficient decision-making due to lack of opposition hindrances.

  • Political stability with a clear policy direction.

  • Unified national identity and direction under a single party's leadership.

  • Disadvantages:

  • Lack of political pluralism and competition, potentially leading to authoritarianism.

  • Limited citizen representation and reduced government accountability.

  • Suppression of dissenting voices and potential for abuses of power.

Two-Party System

  • A political system where power shifts between two dominant major parties, with one forming the governing party and the other the opposition.

  • Examples:

  • United States: The Democratic Party and the Republican Party dominate the political landscape, with most elected officials belonging to one of these two parties.

  • United Kingdom: While the UK has a multi-party system, it has elements of a two-party system, with the Conservative Party and the Labour Party historically being the two main parties competing for power.

  • Variations:

  • In some countries like Malta and Zimbabwe, the two-party system is more rigid, with little room for third parties to win significant representation.

  • In parliamentary systems like Canada and Australia, while there are more than two parties, the system is often dominated by two major parties, with smaller parties having limited influence.

  • Duverger's Law: Maurice Duverger's law suggests that the two-party system is an organic product of the winner-takes-all voting system, where the party winning most votes in an election takes all the seats.


  • Encourages centrism and finding common goals that appeal to a larger electorate.

  • Simpler governing system with a focus on political stability.

  • Provides clear choices for voters and a strong opposition to keep the governing party in check.


  • Less competitive and gives voters fewer choices.

  • Encourages partisanship over inter-party compromise.

  • Critics argue that the two-party system fails to address the concerns of minority parties and their supporters.

Multi-Party System

  • Definition: A political system where multiple political parties exist and compete to control the government.

  • Characteristics:

  1. Common in parliamentary systems and countries with proportional representation.

  2. Allows for a range of political ideologies and identities to be represented.

  3. Often leads to coalition governments where parties work together to form a majority.

  • Examples:

  1. India: With a multi-party system, India has numerous national and regional parties competing for power.

  2. Germany: The German political landscape is characterized by several major parties, including the Christian Democratic Union, the Social Democratic Party, and others.

  3. New Zealand: New Zealand's political system features multiple parties, with governments often formed through coalition agreements.


  • Represents diverse societal interests and ideologies.

  • Provides voters with a variety of choices.

  • Promotes inclusivity and responsiveness to different segments of society.

  • Fosters healthy competition and prevents dictatorship.


  • Coalition governments can be unstable and lead to gridlock.

  • Policymaking can be complex and slow due to the need for consensus among multiple parties.

  • May increase the risk of corruption as parties with different ideologies compromise for power.

  • Regional or linguistic parties may prioritize local interests over national development.

Contrast with Other Systems

  • Multi-Party System vs. Two-Party System:

  • In a multi-party system, multiple parties compete for power, leading to coalition governments, while a two-party system features dominance by two major parties.

  • Multi-Party System vs. One-Party System:

  • In a multi-party system, various parties compete freely, providing voters with choices, whereas in a one-party system, only a single party is legally recognized.


  • The party system represents the set of choices provided to voters/electorates, largely defined by policy design and historical development.

  • Factors influencing change include the rise of civil society restricting political parties' roles, and the emergence of new alliances focusing on issues like environmental conservation and anti-corruption.

  • Political parties convert the needs and demands of the people into policies, with the governing party implementing them and the opposition pressuring for inclusion.

  • The two-party system encourages centrism and common goals, focusing on political stability, while the multi-party system represents various ideological beliefs and provides several options to voters, fostering inclusivity and healthy competition.

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2 days ago
Rated 1 out of 5 stars.

Only given party system, not covered types of parties and their reason for emergence

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