Dominant-party system

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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. A wide range of parties have been cited as being dominant at one time or another, including United Russia in Russia, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, the People's Action Party (PAP) in Singapore, the Barisan Nasional (BN) in Malaysia, the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, Bangladesh Awami League, Jatiya Party, and Bangladesh National Party in Bangladesh, and the ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe.[1] Most dominant-party states are semi-democracies, with a tendency of supressing freedom of expression and manipulating the press in favor of the ruling party.

Historical overview[edit]

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, 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 club), lawsuits against the opposition, 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. 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, 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, and Alberta by Progressive Conservatives 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.

Examples[edit]

Current dominant-party systems[edit]

Africa[edit]

 Algeria
 Angola
  • Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA)[3][4]
  • In power since independence, 11 November 1975; sole legal party, 1975–91
  • Led by President José Eduardo dos Santos, in office since 10 September 1979
  • Presidential election, 1992: dos Santos (MPLA-PT) won 49.6% of the vote. As this was not an absolute majority, a runoff against Jonas Savimbi (40.1%) was required, but did not take place. Dos Santos remained in office without democratic legitimacy.
  • New constitution, 2010: popular election of president abolished in favour of a rule that the top candidate of the most voted party in parliamentary elections becomes president.
  • Parliamentary election, 2012: MPLA 71% and 175 of 220 seats, José Eduardo dos Santos (as head candidate) automatically confirmed as state president (holding now this office for the first time in accordance with the constitution).
 Botswana
 Cameroon[citation needed]


 Chad[citation needed]
 Republic of the Congo[citation needed]
 Djibouti[citation needed]
  • People's Rally for Progress (Rassemblement Populaire pour de Progrès, RPP)
  • Led by President Ismail Omar Guelleh, in office since 8 May 1999
  • In power since its formation in 1979 (Sole legal party, 1979–1992)
  • Parliamentary election, 2013: RPP in coalition, 61.5% and 43 of 65 seats
  • Presidential election, 2016: Ismail Omar Guelleh (RPP) 87.07%
 Equatorial Guinea[citation needed]
  • Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial, PDGE)
  • Led by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in office since 3 August 1979
  • In power since its formation in 1987 (Sole legal party, 1987–1991)
  • Senate election, 2013: PDGE 69 of 70 seats (Includes 15 unelected representatives appointed by the president.)
  • Chamber of People's Representatives election, 2013: PDGE 99 of 100 seats
  • Presidential election, 2016: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (PDGE) 93.53%
 Ethiopia[citation needed]
 Gabon[citation needed]
 Mozambique[citation needed]
 Namibia[citation needed]
 Rwanda[citation needed]
 South Africa[citation needed]
 South Sudan[citation needed]
 Sudan[citation needed]
  • National Congress (NC)
  • Led by President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, in office since 30 June 1989
  • In power since its formation, 16 October 1993
  • Council election, 2010: NC 25 of 50 seats
  • Presidential election, 2015: Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir (NC) 94.05%%
  • Parliamentary election, 2015: NC 83.4% and 323 of 426 seats
 Tanzania[7]
 Togo[citation needed]
 Uganda
 Western Sahara
 Zimbabwe[citation needed]

Americas[edit]

 Antigua & Barbuda

 Canada

Canada has a multi-party system federally, however only two parties have ever held power, the Conservatives and its predecessors, and the Liberals. However in some provinces, a party holds hegemonic status over all other parties.

 United States

The  United States as a whole 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.

Dominated by the Democratic Party:

Dominated by the Republican Party:

  •  Arizona has been considered a "Republican party stronghold" in recent decades, with a continuous majority in the State House of Representatives since 1967.
  •  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.[9]
  •  Nebraska has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, with a non-partisan (with a de facto Republican majority since records began in 2007) legislature, 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: Solid South; 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: Solid South; 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.

 Nicaragua
  • FSLN
  • presidency since 2006 (and 1984–1990) mayor of every major city, including Managua, majorities in most departments.
  • Local elections, 2012: 75,7% and 127 of 153 seats
  • General election, 2016: Daniel Ortega 72.50%
  • National election, 2016: 66.8%
  • Constituency election, 2016: 65.7%
  • Central American Parliament, 2016: 68.6%

Asia / Oceania[edit]

 Cambodia[citation needed]

 Israel

  • Likud (MḤL)
  • Led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in office since 31 March 2009
  • In power 1977-1992 (Grand Coalition in 1984-1988), 1996-1999, 2001-2005 and since 2009
  • Parliamentary election, 2015: MḤL 30 of 120 seats

 Malaysia

 Samoa[citation needed]

 Singapore

 Syria[citation needed]

 Tajikistan[citation needed]

 Turkmenistan[citation needed]

 Yemen[citation needed]

Eurasia[edit]

 Armenia
 Azerbaijan
 Kazakhstan[citation needed]
 Turkey[14][15][16]
 Russia
 South Ossetia

Europe[edit]

 Luxembourg[citation needed]

 Germany

 Hungary

 Italy

 Portugal

 Montenegro

 Serbia

 Wales[19][20][21]

 Scotland[22]

Former dominant parties[edit]

North America[edit]

  •  Canada: The Liberal Party of Canada was the dominant party in the federal government of Canada for so much of its history that it is sometimes given the moniker "Canada's natural governing party".[23] The party ruled for most of the half-century between 1935 and 1984 (the only exceptions being in 1957-1963 and 1979-1980), as well as 1896-1911, 1921-1930 (save a few months), and 1993-2006. After a decade in opposition, the Liberals have returned to power following the 2015 election.
  • The South (usually defined as coextensive with the former Confederacy, with the exception of most of Texas) was known until the era of the civil rights movement as the "Solid South" due to its states' reliable support of the United States' Democratic Party. Several states had an unbroken succession of Democratic governors for several decades or over a century.
  •  New Hampshire had mostly Republican governors from 1857-1997 (140 years) – Republicans held the governorship for all but 15 years (were only twice out of office for more than two consecutive years)
  •  Vermont had only Republican governors from 1855–1963 (108 years)

Caribbean and Central America[edit]

South America[edit]

Europe[edit]

  • In Turkey's single-party period, the Republican People's Party became the major political organisation of a single-party state. However, CHP faced two opposition parties during this period, both established upon the request of the founder of Turkey and CHP leader, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in efforts to jump-start multiparty democracy in Turkey.[24]
  • Italy's Christian Democracy dominated the Italian politics for almost 50 years as the major party in every coalition that governed the country from 1944 until its demise amid a welter of corruption allegations in 1992–1994. The main opposition to the Christian democratic governments was the Italian Communist Party.
  • The Portuguese Republican Party, during most of the Portuguese First Republic's existence (1910–1926): After the coup that put an end to Portugal's constitutional monarchy in 1910, the electoral system, which had always ensured victory to the party in government, was left unchanged. Before 1910, it had been the reigning monarch's responsibility to ensure that no one party remain too long in government, usually by disbanding Parliament and calling for new elections. The republic's constitution added no such proviso, and the Portuguese Republican Party was able to keep the other minor republican parties (monarchic parties had been declared illegal) from winning elections. On the rare occasions when it was ousted from power, it was overtrown by force and was again by the means of a counter-coup that it returned to power, until its final fall, with the republic itself, in 1926.
  • The Ulster Unionist Party in the former devolved administration of Northern Ireland between 1921 and 1972.[25]
  • The Swedish Social Democratic Party in Sweden from 1932 to 1976 except only for some months in 1936 (1936–1939 and 1951–1957 in coalition with the Farmers' League, 1939–1945 at the head of a government of national unity) It has also held the power the vast majority of elections even after 1976. The party is still the largest party in Sweden and has been so in every general election since 1917 (hence the largest party even before the universal suffrage was introduces in 1921). The former Prime minister and party leader Tage Erlander led the Swedish government for an uninterrupted tenure of 23 years (1946-1969), the longest in any democracy so far.
  • The Norwegian Labour Party ruling from 1935 to 1965, though it has been the biggest party in Norway since 1927 and has been in power many other times.
  • The Scottish Labour Party won every election to the House of Commons in Scotland from 1964 to 2015, where it was heavily defeated and reduced to 1 seat.[26] It controlled the Scottish Parliament from its inception in 1999 until the 2007 election where it lost to the SNP.[27]
  • Convergència i Unió coalition (federated political party after 2001) in Catalonia governed the autonomous Catalan government from 1980 to 2003 under the leadership of Jordi Pujol with parliamentary absolute majority or in coalition with other smaller parties.
  • The Socialist Party of Serbia in FR Yugoslavia from 1944/5 (Sole legal party, 1945–1990) to 2000.
  • Ireland's Fianna Fáil was the largest party in Dáil Éireann between 1932 and 2011 and in power for 61 of those 79 years. However, the party were heavily defeated in the Irish general election, 2011, coming third.

Asia[edit]

Africa[edit]

Oceania[edit]

  •  Australia: The Liberal Party held power federally from 1949 to 1972 and from 1975 to 1983 (31 out of 34 years).

Note[edit]

A Presidents in Singapore are not allowed to belong to any party.
Tony Tan (former PAP member) 35.20%
Tan Cheng Bock (another former PAP member): 34.85%
Tan Kin Lian: (another former PAP member): 4.91%

B The predecessors of the CSU are the Bavarian Patriotic Party ruled from 1869 (won in the Zollparlament election, 1868) to the November Revolution 1918 and the BVP ruled from 1919 to the Machtergreifung 1933 .

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Suttner, R. (2006), "Party dominance 'theory': Of what value?", Politikon 33 (3), pp. 277-297
  2. ^ King, Stephen J. (2009). The New Authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-253-35397-9. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ http://www.bti-project.org/country-reports/esa/ago/ (in English)
  5. ^ Doorenspleet, Renske; Nijzink, Lia (2014). Party Systems and Democracy in Africa. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-137-01170-1. 
  6. ^ "Botswana's ruling Democratic Party wins general elections". BBC News. BBC. 26 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  7. ^ 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. Taylor & Francis. 30 (2): 313–333. doi:10.1080/02589001.2012.669566. Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  8. ^ https://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/34/37&Lang=E&Area=RESOLUTION
  9. ^ "State of Kansas Governors". TheUS50.com. Retrieved August 26, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Biography: Office of the Prime Minister". Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "13th Malaysian General Election". The Star. Petaling Jaya. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "Singapore Elections Department - Parliamentary Election Results". Retrieved 9 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "Singapore Elections Department - 2011 Parliamentary Election Results". Retrieved 9 September 2015. 
  14. ^ "TURKEY - AKP ushering in 'dominant-party system,' says expert". hurriyetdailynews.com. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Turkey Under the AKP: The Era of Dominant-Party Politics". journalofdemocracy.org. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  17. ^ Formerly its predecessors PCI, PDS and DS
  18. ^ Formerly its predecessors PCI, PDS and DS
  19. ^ http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2017-06-07/labour-are-on-course-to-retain-their-dominance-in-wales-according-to-our-latest-poll/
  20. ^ http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/june2017/2017/06/its-no-fluke-poll-labour-heading-landslide-wales
  21. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/06/welsh-labour-electoral-welsh-voters
  22. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/19/the-guardian-view-on-the-election-in-scotland-a-pivotal-poll-for-the-snp
  23. ^ Canada's 'natural governing party'. CBC News in Depth, 4 December 2006. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  24. ^ http://www.utoronto.ca/ai/learningtolose/participants.html[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Garnett, Mark; Lynch, Philip (2007). Exploring British Politics. London: Pearson Education. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-582-89431-0. 
  26. ^ http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/f350d9ac-f4fa-11e4-8a42-00144feab7de.html#axzz3pFUtHHx8
  27. ^ Cairney, Paul; McGarvey, Neil (2013). Scottish Politics. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan Limited. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-230-39046-1. 
  28. ^ 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.