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UNIT 10: PARTY SYSTEMS
SOCIOLOGICAL AND INSTITUTIONAL
EXPLANATIONS
Readings: Ware CH 6, Lipset and Rokkan, Duverger, Cox
Guiding Questions






Which factors do sociological approaches
emphasize?
What is a cleavage?
How are they translated into party systems?
What do theorists mean when they say party
systems are “frozen”?
Which factors do institutional approaches
emphasize?
What is Duverger’s Law?
Sociological Accounts


Lipset and Rokkan 1967
What shapes party systems?:
 Social


cleavages.
Cleavages: social divisions separating a given
society.
Research question:
 Why
do we see two party systems in Anglo-American
systems and multiparty systems in Europe?

Answer:
 Resolution
of historical conflicts (cleavage patterns)
explain differences.
Early Cleavage Dimensions
Lipset and Rokkan 1967
Cleavages can be represented in a two
dimensional space.
Territorial dimension:
Local opposition to encroachment by
the center vs. conflict amongst political
elites over control of the center
(center-periphery)
Functional dimension:
Interest specific oppositions vs.
ideological oppositions.
Territorial cleavages exist before
functional ones appear.
Bottom line:
State building activates centerperiphery.
As state solidifies, functional
cleavages become salient.

Role of Political Parties


Lipset and Rokkan 1967
Societal conflict gives rise to political parties.
 Parties:
 act
as agents of mobilization and integration.
 allow citizens to differentiate between office-holders and
system of government.
 serve both expressive and representative functions


But not all cleavages result in political oppositions.
And not all oppositions result in parties.
Translating Cleavages into Parties



Lipset and Rokkan 1967
How are cleavages translated into political parties?
 State characteristics matter.
A series of thresholds exist in the translation of cleavages to
movements to political parties.
 Thresholds include:
 1) Legitimation
 2) Incorporation
 3) Representation
 4) Majority Power
Explaining European Party Systems: Critical Junctures and Critical
Cleavages




Lipset and Rokkan 1967
How do we get from cleavages, to parties, to party systems?
 Exogenous shocks to the system (critical junctures) make certain
cleavages salient.
 Parties form in response
 The timing of societal conflict coupled with which side “wins” shapes
political parties.
 These cleavage patterns in turn, shape party systems (i.e. which types of
parties exist within a system).
 Variation in cleavage patterns explains differences across systems.
Identifies four major cleavages which shape European party systems.
 Shaped by national revolutions and industrialization.
First three cleavages shape the center and the right; the last cleavage
shapes the left.
Critical Junctures: National Revolutions
CENTER-PERIPHERY



Protestant Reformation
Control by the center vs.
control by the localities.
 Centralized state vs.
ethnic, religious, linguistic
communities in the
periphery.
Shapes: conservatives,
separatists, (liberals)
STATE-CHURCH

National Revolutions



Post 1789-French Revol.
State control of
education vs. Church
control.
Shapes: Christian
Democratic parties
Critical Junctures: Industrial Revolution
LAND-INDUSTRY

Industrial Revolution



19th century.
Primary vs. secondary
economy

OWNER-WORKER

Agriculture vs. manufacturing
 Tariffs
vs. free
enterprise?

Shapes: agrarians,
(liberals).

Russian Revolution
 Post 1917
Integrate workers vs.
repressing labor.
 Allow access to system.
 Join an international
movement?
Shapes: socialists and
communists.
Protestant
Reformation
State controls
national church
(center dominant)
Church controls
education
State allies with
Catholic Church
(periphery dominant)
State controls with
Catholic minority
State allies with
Catholic church
Secular revolution
Commitment to
Landed Interests
Commitment to
Industrial Interests
Commitment to
Landed Interests
Commitment to
Industrial Interests
Commitment to
Landed Interests
Commitment to
Industrial Interests
Commitment to
Landed Interests
Commitment to
Industrial Interests
UK
(Cons. vs. Libs.)
Scandinavia
(Cons vs.
Agrarians/Rads)
Prussia
(Cons. vs.
Liberals/Centre)
Netherlands
(Libs vs. Catholics)
Spain
(Libs. vs.. Catalan
separatists)
France/Italy
(Libs/Rads vs..
Cons./Cath.)
Austria
(Christians vs.
Liberals vs. Industry)
Belgium
(Christians and Libs
vs. Flemish
Separatists)
OWNER
WORKER
LABOR UNIFIED
OWNER
WORKER OWNER
WORKER OWNER
WORKER
LABOR
DIVIDED
LABOR LABOR DIVIDED
UNITED
LABOR UNIFIED
SOCIALISTS
INTEGRATED
SOCIALISTS
OPPRESSED
SOCIALISTS
INTEGRATED
SOCIALISTS
OPPRESSED
SOCIALISTS
INTEGRATED
COMM-N
COMM-Y
COMM-N
COMM-Y
COMM-N
Freezing of Party Systems


Lipset and Rokkan 1967
Analysis stops in the 1920’s.
 Modern party systems of reflect the same
patterns of cleavage structure observed in the
1920’s.
 After
universal suffrage, no further expansion of
the electorate.
 Cleavage
patterns and their resulting party
systems are “frozen”
 Has
fostered a great deal of debate
Evaluating Lipset and Rokkan
STRENGTHS
Shows the importance of
societal context in party
formation.
Explains why we see
certain types of parties in
some systems but not in
others.

WEAKNESSES
Rise of post materialist
parties (Greens) challenges
the freezing hypothesis.
Suggests that institutions
really do not matter.

But
then why do politicians
tweak them?

No predictive ability.
How
do we know when a
“critical juncture” will occur?
Electoral Systems: Overview
SMD/FPTP/PLURALITY






Referred to as single member
district (SMD) or “first past the
post”
A single candidate is elected in
each electoral district (district
magnitude =1).
Whoever receives the most votes,
wins.
Generally manufactures a
majority for the largest parties.
Gerrymandering can reduce
electoral turnover.
Denies representation to smaller
parties to provide stability in
coalition creation.





PROPORTIONAL
REPRESENTATION/PR
Various types of PR exist.
Candidates are elected by party
list in multi-member districts
(district magnitude >1).
Parties receive a number of seats
proportional to their percentage
of the vote.
Electoral threshold determines
which parties gain access to the
legislature.
Allows for more proportionate
outcomes, but makes coalition
formation more difficult.
Institutional Accounts


Duverger 1954
Two party systems are preferable to multiparty
systems.


Center is an artificial construct which does not truly
exist.


Two party systems are “natural” as a “duality of
tendencies” exist on any issue.
Always split by moderates of the left and right (i.e.
superimposed dualisms).
Two party systems reflect natural dualism of political
issues.

Preferable to multipartism
Dualism and the Two Party System


Duverger 1954
Not all “dualisms” are created equal.


Certain dualisms can threaten democracy.
Technical dualism:
Differences between parties revolve around issues.
 Legitimacy of system and institutions accepted by both
parties.


Metaphysical dualism:
Differences between parties revolve around fundamentals
of the regime (i.e. institutions, etc).
 Threatens stability.

Electoral Institutions and Party Systems


Duverger 1954
Duvergers' Law: “simple majority single ballot systems
favours the two-party system”



Multiparty systems promoted by proportional
representation.



Mechanical effects.
Psychological effects.
PR systems lack the mechanical and psychological effects to
reduce the number of parties.
All parties possess internal divisions of opinion (factions).
In systems with permissive electoral laws factionalization can
result in the creation of center parties.
Overlapping Dualisms and Multipartyism

French Fourth Republic
Multiparty systems can arise from:
1)
party factions
2)
overlapping dualisms.
Overlapping dualisms exist where
several issues are salient, but
duality of opinions on these issues
do not overlap.

Progressives
MRP
Right and RPF
Radicals

Example: French Fourth Republic

Three Dualisms
Socialists
1)
Clerical-Anticlerical
Communists
2)
East-West
3)
Freedom-Planning
Evaluating Duverger
STRENGTHS
PRO
FPTP does reduce the number of
parties.

Although
concentrated support can
make a third party viable.
Runoff systems using FPTP result in
multiparty systems.
Admits that while two party
systems are “natural” electoral
manipulation to reduce the number
of parties may not always be wise.

Example:
Israel.
Italian First Republic.,
WEAKNESSES
CON
Dualist” countries use FPTP

Suggests
that the selection of
certain institutions may be based
on societal attributes.
Supportive
of sociological
explanations.
The types of parties contesting
elections “matter”
Supportive of competition
models.
Conclusions: Evaluating Explanations




Both overlook the ability of party leaders to shape
cleavage patterns.
Party leaders can exploit cleavages for electoral
success.
Cox 1997
Both cleavages and institutions matter; a “symbiotic
relationship” exists between the two.
Systems without multiple cleavages would not have multiple
parties.
 Electoral system provides an upper limit (or upper bound) on
the number of political parties within a system.

Next Unit

Theme: Party Systems-Electoral Volatility
 Readings
Ware CH 7
Reserves: Pedersen, Mair

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