From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A dominant-party system, or one party dominant system, is a party system where only one political party can realistically become the government, by itself or in a coalition government. Under what has been 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 finally, and most controversially, inherent cultural values averse to change.
Not all dominant-party systems are undemocratic. In many cases, such as the government of Tommy Douglas in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, pure populism can keep the momentum of a government going for quite some time. In other cases, sheer inertia preserves the dominant party, as with the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, where some argue the Japanese people as well as Japanese special interests have gotten so accustomed to LDP rule that until quite recently they might have found it hard to imagine it any other way. However, others point out that until 1993 Japanese electoral districts suffered quite severe malapportionment, ranging from a 1:2 ratio to an extreme 1:6 ratio vote per candidate which favour LDP.
Thus in contrast to single-party systems, which are almost always authoritarian, dominant-party systems can occur within a context of a democratic system. In a single-party system other parties are banned, but in dominant-party systems other political parties are tolerated, and (in democratic dominant-party systems) operate without any 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).
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 clubs), 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 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.
Current dominant-party systems
The following countries appear to be run by dominant-party systems:
- Congolese Labour Party
- Parti congolais du Travail (PCT)
- Led by President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, in office from 8 February 1979 to 31 August 1992 and since 15 October 1997
- In power, under various names, from 1963 to 1992 and since 1997
- Sole legal party, 1963–90
- Presidential election, 2002: Denis Sassou-Nguesso (PCT) 89.4%
- Parliamentary election, 2002: PCT 53 of 137 seats
- Popular Rally for Progress
- Rassemblement populaire pour le Progrès (RPP)
- Led by President Ismail Omar Guelleh, in office since 8 May 1999
- In power since its formation in 1979
- Sole legal party, 1979–92
- Presidential election, 2005: Ismail Omar Guelleh (RPP) re-elected unopposed
- Parliamentary election, 2003: RPP in coalition, 62.4% and 65 of 65 seats
- 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, 1987–91
- Presidential election, 2002: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (PDGE) 97.1%
- Parliamentary election, 2004: PDGE 47.5% and 68 of 100 seats (91.9% and 98 of 100 seats including allies)
- Party of Unity and Progress
- Parti de l'Unité et du Progrès (PUP)
- Led by President Lansana Conté, in office since 3 April 1984
- In power since its formation in 1991
- Presidential election, 2003: Lansana Conté (PUP) 95.6%
- Parliamentary election, 2002: PUP 61.6% and 47 of 76 seats
- People's Democratic Party (PDP)
- Led by President Umaru Yar'Adua, in office since 29 May 2007
- In power since 29 May 1999
- Presidential election, 2003: Olusegun Obasanjo (PDP) 61.8%
- Parliamentary election, 2003: PDP 54.8% and 198 of 318 seats
- National Congress Party (NCP)
- المؤتمر الوطني, al-Mu'tamar al-Waṭanī
- Led by President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, in office since 30 June 1989
- In power since its formation, 16 October 1993
- Presidential election, 2000: Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir (NCP) 86.5%
- Parliamentary election, 2000: NCP 355 of 360 seats
- Democratic Constitutional Rally
- Arabic: التجمع الدستوري الديمقراطي, Al-Tajammu` al-Dustūrī al-Dīmuqrāṭī; Rassemblement constitutionnel démocratique (RCD)
- Led by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in office since 7 November 1987
- In power, under various names, since independence in 1956
- Sole legal party, 1963–81
- Presidential election, 2004: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (RCD) 94.5%
- Parliamentary election, 2004: RCD 87.6% and 152 of 189 seats
- Zimbabwe African National Union — Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)
- Led by President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, in office since 18 April 1980 (as president since 31 December 1987)
- In power since independence, 17 April 1980
- Presidential election, 2002: Robert Gabriel Mugabe (ZANU-PF) 56.2%
- House of Assembly election, 2005: ZANU-PF 59.6% and 78 of 120 elective seats (30 additional seats reserved for appointees)
- Senate election, 2005: ZANU-PF 73.7% and 43 of 50 elective seats (16 additional seats reserved for appointees and traditional chiefs)
Western Saharas Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Asia / Oceania
- New Azerbaijan Party (Yeni Azərbaycan Partiyası YAP) has been in power essentially continuously since 1993.
- Christian Social Union has dominated politics in the state of Bavaria since 1957. Forming the government all on their own for most of the time they lost a lot of voters support in the 2008 elections and are now in a coalition government.
Republic of Ireland
- Fianna Fáil have been the dominant government party since 1987, except for a 30-month period in 1994-1997. The next election is scheduled for 2012, by which time the party will have held power for 23 of 25 years. Fianna Fáil have taken the largest number of seats in all Dáil Éireann elections since 1932. However they have not always formed a government, with coalition governments of other parties common throughout Irish history.
- The Christian Social People's Party (CSV), with its predecessor Party of the Right, has governed Luxembourg continuously since 1919, except for the 1974-79 period. However, Luxembourg has a coalition system, and the CSV has been in coalition with at least one of the two next two leading parties for all but four years. It has always won a plurality of seats in parliamentary elections, although it has lost the popular vote in 1964 and 1974.
- The Partit Nazzjonalista has democratically been the sole governing party in Malta since 1987, except for a brief 22-month period between 1996 and 1998. It won elections held in 1987, 1992, 1998, 2003 and 2008, each time defeating the left-of-centre Malta Labour Party. Since 1966 there have only been these two parties represented in the Maltese Parliament.
- Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (founded 1943 (part of Communist Party of Yugoslavia, later League of Communists of Yugoslavia), League of Communists of Montenegro up to 22 June 1991, Communist Party of Montenegro up to 1952)
- Демократска партија социјалиста Црне Горе (founded 1943 (part of Комунистичка партија Југославије, later Савез комуниста Југославије), Савез комуниста Црне Горе up to 22 June 1991, Комунистичка партија Црне Горе up to 1952)
- Led by Milo Đukanović, second term Prime Minister since 29 February 2008 in a raw (PM in three terms from 15 February 1991 to 5 February 1998 and then again from 8 January 2003 to 10 November 2006, President from 15 January 1998 to 25 November 2002; acting Defense Minister from June 2006 to 10 November 2006)
- in power since establishment of Communist rule in Montenegro/Yugoslavia in 1944/5
- Sole legal party, 1945–90
- Presidential election, 2008: Filip Vujanović (DPS CG), 51.89%
- Parliamentary election, 2009: DPS CG in coalition, 51.94% and 48 (35) of 81 seats
Former dominant-party systems
Countries which have since lost their one party dominance include:
- The Democratic-Republican Party was the dominant party nationwide in the United States during the Era of Good Feelings (1816-1824). Also, the Democratic Party was dominant in the Southern United States from the end of Reconstruction to the 1960s and 1970s (the Solid South) and across much of the nation during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Republicans won 14 out of 19 presidential elections from 1860 to 1932, while the Democrats won five consecutive elections from 1932 to 1948.
- The Conservative Party in the United Kingdom won four successive general elections, two of them by a landslide, holding power from 1979 to 1997.
- The Colorado Party of 19th- and 20th-century Uruguay
- The Liberal Party of Colombia from 1863 to 1880
- The Liberal Party of Guatemala from 1871 to 1944
- The Partido Autonomista Nacional of Argentina from 1874 to 1916
- The Colorado Party of Paraguay from 1880-1904 and then 1947-2008. They were the sole legal party from 1947-1962.
- The Christian Social People's Party (and its predecessor Party of the Right in Luxembourg has held office for all but five years since 1914.
- The Partido Revolucionario Institucional in Mexico from the 1920s until 2000
- 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 Nacionalista Party in the Philippines was the dominant party during various times in the nation's history from 1935-1941, during 1945, from 1954-1961, and from 1966-1972
- The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, in Ontario (in Canada) from 1943 to 1985.
- The Indian National Congress from 1947 to 1977.
- The Muslim League in Pakistan from 1947 to 1958.
- The Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League in Burma (now Myanmar) from 1948 to 1962.
- Democrazia Cristiana in Italy from 1948 to 1992 (usually in coalition with a group of smaller centrist parties). The only other major party, the Italian Communist Party, was prevented from taking power due to the Cold War.
- The National Party in South Africa from 1948 to 1994.
- The Liberal-Country Party Coalition government of Australia between 1949 and 1972 can also be considered an example of a former dominant party system.
- The Labor Party (under various names, including Mapai, The Alignment, and Ha'Avoda—i.e. Labor) in Israel until 1977
- The Christian Democratic Union in Germany from 1949 to 1969 (usually in coalition with the Liberals and smaller conservative groups).
- 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, and is still the largest party in Sweden.
- The Popular Democratic Party in Puerto Rico from 1949 to 1969.
- The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement in Bolivia from 1952 to 1964.
- The Antigua Labour Party in Antigua and Barbuda from 1960-1971 and 1976-2004.
- The People's Progressive Party in The Gambia from 1965 to 1994.
- The Golkar (Acronym of Golongan Karya or Functional Group) in Indonesia from 1971 to 1999.
- Kilusang Bagong Lipunan in the Philippines from 1978-1986.
- The Socialist Party of Serbia in Yugoslavia from 1992 to 2000.
- The Ulster Unionist Party in the former devolved administration of Northern Ireland between 1921 to 1972.
- The Labour Party won every election in Scotland between the 1960s and 2007
- Japan Liberal Democratic Party in power 1955–1993, and 1994-2009
- Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) was the dominant party during the term of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2001-2010.