Big tent

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In politics, a big tent or catch-all party is a political party with membership of diverse viewpoints and ideologies.


United States[edit]

The Democratic Party during the New Deal coalition, formed in support of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies from 1930s until 1960s, was a "big-tent" party.[1] This coalition brought together labor unions, working-class voters, farm organizations, liberals, southern Democrats, African Americans, urban voters, and immigrants.[2][3] While less of a big-tent today, the Democratic Party does retain "considerable ideological diversity," and political scientist William Mayer has shown "that the party's faithful consistently reflect a broad ideological and policy range than Republicans."[1]

The Libertarian Party, following the 1974 Dallas Accord, embraced the big tent idea to the extent it ensured that the anarchist-capitalist views would not be excluded from the majority minarchist party.[4]

The Democratic Socialists of America and the Socialist Party USA are both big tent parties for Socialist ideologies. The former also includes a Libertarian Socialist Caucus for Anarchists, Council Communists and Libertarian Socialists. Although, the DSA is technically an organization, not a party, and isn't recognized by the U.S. government. The latter is a big tent for Democratic Socialism, including the Revolutionary type.


The Indian National Congress attracted support from Indians of all classes, castes and religions opposed to the British Empire.[5]


In Italy, the Five Star Movement, led by comedian and actor Beppe Grillo has been described as a catch-all party, protest party, and "post-ideological big tent" because its supporters do not share similar policy preferences, are split on major economic and social issues, and are united largely based on " anti-establishment" sentiments.[6] The Five Star Movement's "successful campaign formula combined anti-establishment sentiments with an economic and political protest which extends beyond the boundaries of traditional political orientations" yet its "'catch-all' formula" has limited its ability to become "a mature, functional, effective and coherent contender for government."[6]

United Kingdom[edit]

When Gordon Brown became British Prime Minister in 2007, he invited several members from outside the Labour Party into his government. These included former CBI Director-General Digby Jones who became a Minister of State, and former Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown who was offered the position of Northern Ireland Secretary (Ashdown turned down the offer).[7][8] The media often referred to Brown's ministry as "a government of all the talents" or simply "Brown's big tent".[9]

Other examples[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b David C. King, "The Polarization of American Parties and Mistrust of Government" in Why People Don't Trust Government (eds. Joseph S. Nye, Philip Zelikow, David C. King: Harvard University Press, 1997).
  2. ^ Lisa Young, Feminists and Party Politics (University of Michigan Press, 2000), p. 84.
  3. ^ Holly M. Allen, "New Deal Coalition" in Class in America: An Encyclopedia (Vol. 2: H-P), ed. Robert E. Weir (ABC-CLIO, 2007), p. 571: "During the 1930s liberals, labor unions, white ethnics, African Americans, farm groups, and Southern whites united to form the New Deal coalition. Though never formally organized, the coalition was sufficiently cohesive to make the Democratic Party the majority party from 1931 into the 1980s. Democrats won seven out of nine presidential contests and maintained majorities in both houses of Congress from 1932 to 1964. The divisiveness of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War, the increasing segmentation of the labor force, and waning influence of unions, and the relative weakness of Democratic Party leadership are among the factors that led to the coalition's erosion in the late 1960s."
  4. ^ Paul Gottfried, The conservative movement: Social movements past and present , Twayne Publishers, 1993, p. 46.
  5. ^ Meyer, Karl Ernest; Brysac, Shareen Blair (2012). Pax Ethnica: Where and How Diversity Succeeds. PublicAffairs. pp. 64–. ISBN 9781610390484. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Valentina Romei, Five Star Movement: the protest party explained in charts: Direct democracy and rejection of binary politics brings success but stunts maturity, Financial Times (January 10, 2017).
  7. ^ "In full: Brown's government". BBC News. June 29, 2007. 
  8. ^ "The fallout from Brown's job offer". BBC News. June 21, 2007. 
  9. ^ "First 100 days: Gordon Brown". BBC News. October 5, 2007. 
  10. ^ Hroník, Jiří. "Známe tajemství velkého úspěchu Andreje Babiše". Parlamentní listy. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  11. ^ Mlejnek, Josef. "Marketing jako kingmaker aneb Kam směřují české politické strany?". Revue Politika. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Sarah Elise Wiliarty (16 August 2010). The CDU and the Politics of Gender in Germany: Bringing Women to the Party. Cambridge University Press. pp. 218–221. ISBN 978-1-139-49116-7. 
  13. ^ James L. Newell; James Newell (28 January 2010). The Politics of Italy: Governance in a Normal Country. Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-521-84070-5. 
  14. ^ Maria Maguire (1986). "Ireland". In Peter Flora. Growth to Limits: Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy. Walter de Gruyter. p. 333. ISBN 978-3-11-011131-6. 
  15. ^ Eoin O'Malley (2011). Contemporary Ireland. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-230-34382-5. 
  16. ^ Lowell Barrington (2009). Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices. Cengage Learning. p. 379. ISBN 0-618-49319-0. 
  17. ^ Mohammadighalehtaki, Ariabarzan (2012). Organisational Change in Political Parties in Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. With Special Reference to the Islamic Republic Party (IRP) and the Islamic Iran Participation Front Party (Mosharekat) (Ph.D. thesis). Durham University. p. 176. 
  18. ^ Glenn D. Hook; Julie Gilson; Christopher W. Hughes; Hugo Dobson (2001). Japan's International Relations: Politics, Economics and Security. Routledge. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-134-32806-2. 
  19. ^ Sigrid Baringhorst; Veronika Kneip; Johanna Niesyto (2009). Political Campaigning on the Web. transcript Verlag. p. 236. ISBN 978-3-8376-1047-5. 
  20. ^ William Cross (2015). "Party Membership in Quebec". In Emilie van Haute; Anika Gauja. Party Members and Activists. Routledge. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-317-52432-8. 
  21. ^ David Torrance, "Scotland's Progressive Dilemma," The Political Quarterly, 88 (2017): 52–59. doi:10.1111/1467-923X.12319
  22. ^ Severin Carrell, "Alex Salmond's big tent bulges as Tommy Sheridan lends voteless support," The Guardian, 25 April 2011.
  23. ^ Tom Gallagher; Allan M. Williams (1989). "Southern European socialism in the 1990s". In Tom Gallagher; Allan M. Williams. Southern European Socialism: Parties, Elections, and the Challenge of Government. Manchester University Press. pp. 271–. ISBN 978-0-7190-2500-6. . Page 271.
  24. ^ Günther Pallaver (2008). "South Tyrol's Consociational Democracy: Between Political Claim and Social Reality". In Jens Woelk; Francesco Palermo; Joseph Marko. Tolerance Through Law: Self Governance and Group Rights In South Tyrol. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 305, 309. ISBN 978-90-04-16302-7. 
  25. ^ David Lublin (2014). Minority Rules: Electoral Systems, Decentralization, and Ethnoregional Party Success. Oxford University Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-19-994884-0. 
  26. ^ Academic thesis on the factions within DPP
  27. ^ Sventlana S. Bodrunova; Anna A. Litvinenko (2013). "New media and political protest: the formation of a public counter-sphere in Russia, 2008–2012". In Andrey Makarychev; Andre Mommen. Russia’s Changing Economic and Political Regimes: The Putin Years and Afterwards. Routledge. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-135-00695-2. 
  28. ^ "Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes): "We are all in, we’ve reached the end of the line"". Ara. 2015-07-21.