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JLeslie's avatar

Are there any democratic countries that don't have a party system for politics?

Asked by JLeslie (60535points) May 4th, 2012

Where politicians just run on issues and are not identified with a particular party, not supported by a party, not controlled by a party?

If we can’t come up with an example, what do you think about the idea? Could it work? Do you think the party system just leads to the animosity and unwillingness to cooperate in poltics? Is it a necessary evil? Does it promote “us and them” thinking, rather than we are all Americans, or whatever country we choose as an example.

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7 Answers

Jaxk's avatar

I can’t think of any. Most of the party platforms conform to an ideology, conservative, liberal, communist, socialist and thier members generally fall into those categories. It is a rare person that agrees entirely with the party platform but rather agrees with most or a substantial portion of it. It’s hard to imagine how we would break from those ideological positions even if there were no official party endorse them. A conservative would still be conservative and a liberal would still be liberal. I don’t see how eliminating the parties would change that.

wundayatta's avatar

Parties are useful, and not evil. It is the way we ally ourselves so as to gain power to do what needs to be done. Parties are very helpful at getting politicians with the right ideas elected. If they did it on their own, it would be so much of a mess that parties would have to be created, anyway.

There is some thought that, in certain types of democracy, where it is a winner take all situation, you will inevitably end up with two parties. That’s the most efficient way to fight for power. Further, those two parties will become much like each other because the way to gain power is to get 50% plus 1 of the vote. So you capture the middle, plus a little bit more, if you can. That means you have to place yourself as close to the middle as possible. Closer than your opponent party, anyway.

In other forms of democracy, there can be proportional representation. In those democracies, more than two parties can be viable over the long haul.

Fly's avatar

Not that I can think of. But there are countries that have a multi-party system as opposed to the two-party system that we have in the U.S.. Our country suffers from blind adherence to the two dominant parties, leaving third parties without a chance; whereas in these countries, any number of parties have a true chance to achieve political success, and people tend to vote more issue-based.

@Jaxk I have to disagree with your statement that eliminating parties would not change anything. I can see why you would think that this would not initially have any effect were we to presently break away from the party system, as people have adjusted to this party system and would not vote any differently. However, I think that people would become desensitized to this over time. Were it not for the immense pressure to conform to one of the only two parties that are seriously considered in any election, I suspect that the platforms of many political candidates would be very different. People would be forced to vote based on “the issues” rather than some name to which they have sworn their political allegiance.

Jaxk's avatar


I understand why you think that but I don’t agree. I am a Republican not because I agree with thier platform but rather because they agree with me. I suspect there are a lot of liberals with the same attitude towards the democratic party.

We have no shortage of political parties. According to Wikipedia there are about 41 different political parties in the US. That includes the major parties, Republican, Democratic, libertarian, Green, and Constitution. There are plenty of choices and some carry a few representatives, mostly in state government. They have trouble getting traction for a couple of reasons. They are typically too narrowly focused (i.e. the green party) or they have trouble getting qualified candidates. I was a registered Libertarian for years but the idiots they kept nominating, I just couldn’t vote for. And let’s not forget, we have elected independents to congress. Two currently.

I think the people that know the issues vote on them whether they are on the right or left. Unfortunately thier is a wide swath of people that won’t or can’t take the time to analyze the issues. Those are the ones that are influenced by the political ads or the movie stars, etc. I doubt changing the political parties would have much impact on them, other than to give them more diversity in which movie star to listen to. Of course that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Fly's avatar

@Jaxk I am glad that you are lucky enough that your views align quite well with the overall Republican ideals. I, too, am a Democrat for this reason. However, as proven by many studies and surveys, most people are actually somewhere in between, if not on a different page altogether. Though the many parties already in existence likely cover the values and opinions of a majority of the population, most of them wouldn’t know because of the way society has conditioned people to think about politics (this includes anyone who is not fully satisfied with any of the major parties, which is a very large demographic).

Though I again ultimately have to disagree with you, I do see your point that many of the people who vote this way today will continue to vote as such regardless. I personally think that a lack of political parties would discourage this, but your theory on the matter is entirely possible as well.

Of course, the chances of the breakdown of the party system in the U.S. are very slim, so this is all hypothetical.

I am personally of the opinion that there will likely be a division within the current Republican party that separates the modern conservatives from the traditional or “true” conservatives, and the first major modern third party will be formed from this division. But again, all hypothetical.

Jaxk's avatar


You may be right about a split but I have no idea what a ‘True Conservative’ might be. There is already a lot of support for the Libertarian ideas and it seems to be growing. Their domestic policy aligns well with the Republican part but the foriegn policy aligns with the Democrats. Ron Paul is a viable candidate and even though he is campaigning as a Republican, he is a Libertarian.

We have been through a slight division in the Democratic party, remember the Blue Dogs. We could see a similar stripe through the Republican party. Still I don’t see a real split at least not near term.

Fly's avatar

@Fly “True Conservatives” actually call themselves that, according to an article I read a little while ago. (I would link you to it but I honestly don’t remember where I read it.) They consider themselves to be the more classic/traditional conservatives and think that modern conservatives have deviated from what they consider to be “true” conservatism and are giving conservatives a bad name, thus the term. I don’t see this divide happening in the immediate future because there is not a large enough movement, but I can certainly see it happening within the next twenty years or so.

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