A] Party System
Political parties have become the universal feature of politics around the world irrespective of the fact that the country is democratic or non-democratic. Political parties perform the essential input function known as ‘interest aggregation’. The study of political parties has become an extremely specialized field in itself known as stasiology.
Prominent theories of political parties.
Political parties have been analyzed by different perspectives.
Normative approach is proposed by Edmund Burke. According to him, political parties are the set of people sharing common ideology, coming together for promotion of national interest.
On the other hand behavioral scholars show that political parties are powerhouses. The purpose of formation of political party is to come to power.
In recent times, ideology has lost the relevance and we see the rise of ‘catch all parties’ (a term coined by Otto Von Kirchheimer).
1] Lenin’s theory of political party.
Lenin has given the theory of communist party in his pamphlet WHAT IS TO BE DONE?. However, Marx never accepted the idea of party because party creates hierarchy, goes against the idea of equality.
Lenin believed that workers are not capable of developing the revolutionary consciousness on their own, hence communist party will act as ‘vanguard’ of revolution.
He makes distinction between communist party and trade unions. Trade unions are the parts of bourgeoise systems. Trade unions can get only some concession for workers, whereas communist party can bring workers to power.
Communist party is a secret society as the aim of communist party is to overthrow the state. It is pyramidical in structure. It will be having its cells at the local levels. Top leadership will do what is determined by the base. Bottom up approach.
Communist party works on the principle of democratic centralism. People will communicate to the top leadership, what they want. Top leadership will convert people’s demands into a workable program of action. Once decision is taken by the top leadership, it will be implemented at all the levels and hence it will be centralized.
2] Behavioural theories of political parties.
Contribution of Robert Michel’s
Book: POLITICAL PARTIES.
He has given the concept of ‘iron law of oligarchy.’ He has analyzed the internal functioning of socialist parties in Germany to examine the claim of Marxists that socialist parties operate on different principles. He came to the conclusion that there is no difference in the internal functioning. All powers are in the hands of top leadership. Hence he suggested that oligarchy is the iron law, power will always be in the hands of elites. Masses never shape decisions. Thus irrespective of the ideology, all parties operate in a similar fashion.
Contribution of Duverger
Book: THE POLITICAL PARTIES (1951).
He has given Duverger law. This law tells the relationship between the electoral system and the party system. If country has simple majoritarian type electoral system, it will have two party system. If country has proportional representation, it will have multi-party system. But India is an exception to the Duverger law, where multi party system exists with simple majoritarian type.
Duverger has also given the structural analysis of political parties. On the basis of ideology, there are two types of parties. 1) Mass parties – Liberal and communists. 2) Cadre based parties – Rightist parties.
He has also given the structural classification of parties with respect to internal structures. He discusses four types of internal structures.
1] Some parties have branches e.g. Liberal parties.
2] Cells – feature of communist parties.
3] Caucus – A small group of leaders, elites, junta primarily associated with rightist parties.
4] Militia – Some parties can have their armed wings also like the fascist party or Mussolini. Red guards of Communist Party of China.
Types of political systems
According to Sartori, party system is not shaped by number of parties but number of parties having systemic relevance. Myron Weiner and Joseph LaPalombara have explained the type of party systems on the basis of the nature of electoral systems.
Comparison between western and non-western party systems
Western and non western is a very broad concept. There is lot of internal differentiation or heterogeneity. It will be difficult to give the micro analysis. Hence the differences can be analyzed at a very general level by constructing the ideal types.
It is to be noted that political parties do not operate in vacuum, they are influenced by systemic factors.
We can discuss the features of western countries as following.
They are mature democracies, hence democracy is institutionalized. Thus political parties are also democratic. There is internal democracy with respect to the selection of leaders and candidates. Working of political parties is transparent and are financially accountable.
Political parties are primarily built on ideological lines. Political parties are institutionalized and hence they do not end with the death of the leader. There are two models – two party system and multi party systems…..
Third world countries
Third world countries show paradoxical features. Parties are modern, bureaucratic in their organization, however they are traditional in their functioning. Thus representing the uniqueness of prismatic societies.
Politics in these countries is more complex, multi-dimensional. Besides class, religion, caste, language, region may also play the role.
Political parties may not have secular ideologies. Lack intra-party democracies. Controlled by dynasties. Revolve around personalities. Lack financial accountability and transparency.
B] Pressure Group / Interest Group
Pressure groups are called as invisible empires (Samuel Finer). This shows that the basic difference between political parties and pressure groups is that political parties contest for acquiring formal posts in governmental institutions. Pressure groups do not compete for the formal posts yet they may be influencing the governments decision making to a significant extent.
It can be said that pressure groups play the game of ‘hide and seek’ in the political system. If political parties perform the role of interest aggregation, pressure groups do interest articulation.
The study of pressure groups has been one of the major concern of political sociologists as they operate at the interface of politics and society. The study of pressure groups is known as pluralism. Pluralistic theory of democracy put importance on the study of pressure groups. e.g. Robert Dahl on the basis of the role of pressure groups in liberal democracies preferred to call these democracies as ‘polyarchies’.
Difference in pressure groups and interest groups.
There is no difference in pressure groups and interest groups. Only terminological difference. In traditional approach the term pressure group was preferred whereas in behavioral approach the term interest group is preferred.
Behavioural political scholars wanted to develop standard terminology in political science like it exists in natural sciences. When we use the term pressure groups, we are focusing on the technique employed by these groups i.e. lobbying for promotion of their interests. Whereas when we use the term interest group, we are emphasizing on the purpose i.e. interest articulation. Interest group term is more appropriate because pressure as a technique can be employed by opposition, social movements etc. hence this term may create ambiguity.
Types of interest groups.
Gabriel Almond’s classification:
He has classified interest groups into four types.
2) Non-associational (Community based)
3) Associational and
1) Institutional interest groups.
These pressure groups are those pressure groups which have are the part of governmental institutions or whose members are part of governmental institutions. Like organizations of civil servants, military personnel, govt. sector banks etc. They are the most powerful pressure groups because they operate within the system and are in a best possible situation to influence government policies. Institutional pressure groups are more prominent in developing countries considering the fact that the states in developing countries are ‘overdeveloped states’. In western countries, they may not be as powerful because the western countries normally have minimal state. However the difference is only in terms of ideal types. In reality the situation may vary e.g. Army in Pakistan is the strongest pressure group and that is why army is called as ‘deep state’. Though USA is a democracy, yet USA’s politics gives prominent role to USA’s military and industries. C Wright Mills held that USA is ruled by power elites.
2) Non-associational interest group.
These are those based on caste, community, religion, language, race. e.g. Jat mahasabha, Kshatriya mahasabha, Gujjar sabha are examples of non associational pressure groups. They are exclusive in nature. Membership is based on ascriptive (based on birth) criteria. Non associational pressure groups play greater role in prismatic societies.
3) Associational interst groups.
Association denotes the organization which is purely based on the interest. People come together for a particular interest irrespective of caste, color, nationality, ethnicity or any other ascriptive criteria. e.g. Amnesty international, Green peace, FICCI, BKU (Bharatiya Kisan Union), SEWA etc. They are more prominent in western countries. However in developing countries also the trend is changing since 1990s because of the beginning of globalization. There is a proliferation of these organizations in terms of number and there is a increase in the scope of their impact.
4) Anomic interest groups.
Anomic means normlessness. Pressure groups is a collective activity. There are some sorts of collective behaviors which cannot be put under either institutional, associational or non-associational. They are categorized as anomic pressure groups. Normally the term is used for crowd behaviour or some short term association. e.g. People protesting against the road accident can be called as anomic pressure groups. They are more visible in developing countries because of the lack of institutionalization of democracy.
Jean Blondel’s classification.
Almond’s model is static, it does not tell how pressure group politics evolves over a period of time hence Blondel proposed more dynamic model.
C] Social Movements
Social movements are also a type of collective behaviour like political parties and pressure groups. The study of social movements is also the main concern of political sociologists. Pressure groups, political parties and social movements are interchangeable. e.g. Indian National Congress started as social movement, changed into pressure group and then into a political party. AAP started as a social movement and became a political party. Out of the three, social movements are least institutionalized. Social movements have their ideology, leadership, life cycle. Social movement is primarily a feature of left-politics. Social movements are aligned to the left ideology. In liberal discourse, scholars do not prefer to use the term social movements. They prefer to use the term ‘resource mobilization’.
Origin of modern social movements.
Modern social movements started in the west as a reaction against the exploitation of the working classes. Workers movements were the earliest social movements/left movements. Now these movements are called as old social movements.
New social movements: New social movements started in west in 1960s. New social movements are concerned with developmental issues, quality of life issues. e.g. Environmental movements, Human rights movements, Civil rights movements, peace movements etc.
Difference in developed and developing world.
In developing world, considering the prismatic nature of the society old and new social movements are not entirely distinct. They are overlapping. e.g. Indian environmental movement is a mix of old and new. As a old social movement, it deals with the livelihood concerns of the tribal, poor, but as a new social movement, it takes up the issues like protection of environment.
Differences between old and new social movements.
The differences can be discussed as following.
1] In terms of objectives: Old social movements deal with bread and butter issues whereas new social movements deal with quality of life issues like sustainable development.
2] In terms of class composition: Old social movements are the movements of lower classes, workers whereas new social movements are primarily the movements by middle classes.
3] In terms of leadership: Whether old or new, the leadership has primarily come from the advanced sections of middle classes. However it does not mean that lower classes have never provided the leadership. e.g. If Lenin was from middle class, Mao was from the peasantry.
4] In terms of techniques: Old social movements primarily used political techniques. Use of force, protests, demonstrations. They take direct action to gain political and economic powers. New social movements use multiple mediums like art, literature, theatre, nukkad natak, movies etc. Their main focus is not on capturing power, but on raising the consciousness.
5] Ideological orientations: Old social movements are materialistic, whereas new social movements are post materialistic.
* Herbert Marcuse is known as the father of new left / new social movements.
D] Electoral systems
Since representative democracy has become inevitable, electoral systems have become part and parcel of any theory of democracy. Any electoral system has to be free and fair, representative with minimum wastage of votes. It is to be noted that democracy is needed for the protection of minorities. Hence electoral system should be such, which gives enough space for the representation of the views of minorities. Real democracy is not majoritarian, but consociational.
Majoritarian representation types.
1] Simple majoritarian type.
It is least representative of all system. Maximum amount of wastage of votes occurs here. Because is based on the idea of winner takes all.
Its only merit is its simplicity. It favors the national parties, or parties operating at a bigger level.
Examples include election to Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha in India. Election of house of commons in USA.
2] Second Ballet.
In this system, winning candidate needs absolute majority and not just the plurality of votes. It means winning candidate must get 50% +1 of total valid votes.
There is also a possibility of two elections. In the first round, if no candidate gets absolute majority then the second run of election takes place. In the second round, only two top candidates are in the election. When only two candidates participate, one is bound to get 50% + 1 votes.
It is more representative but it has its drawback of unnecessary expenditure and extra burden on electoral machinery, electoral fatigue etc.
For example the presidential election in France, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka take place by this method.
3] Alternative vote system.
In this system, winning candidate requires absolute majority, but there is no need to conduct elections for the second time. Therefore it is an improvement over second ballet.
Voters are supposed to write their preferences. In case no candidate gets absolute majority, then the candidate who is least preferred is eliminated. The second preference of the voters will be seen. These are the voters who had given the first preference to the eliminated candidate. Now their votes are transferred to their second preference. This transfer keeps on happening until a particular candidate is able to secure absolute majority.
Example: members of house of representative in Australia.
Even when absolute majority is introduced, large majority remains unrepresented. Hence proportional representation has been introduced. Proportional representation ensures that democracy does not become tyranny of majority. It ensures that the voice of minority gets represented. Proportional representation results into coalition governments.
1] STV (Single Transferrable Vote system)
Invented in Ireland for the election of the members of assembly. Proportional representation by STV is similar to the alternative vote system with two differences.
In alternative vote system, winning candidate requires absolute majority. In proportional representation by STV system, winning candidate requires ‘quota’ of votes. quota means minimum number of votes, not necessarily absolute majority. It means winner does not take all.
Alternative vote system is a majoritarian type. Majoritarian systems are employed in case of single member constituencies. Proportional representation is employed in case of ‘multi member constituencies’. It means more than one candidate is elected.
There can be different ways to determine quota. The most popular formula is Droop quota.
Quota = ( Total number of valid votes / Total number of candidates to be elected ) + 1
Case of Indian presidential election
Constitutionally it is called as ‘proportional representation by single transferrable vote system’. However the problem is, that proportional representation is meant for multi member constituencies, but presidents case is an example of single member constituency.
But we cannot call it as alternative vote system, because winning candidate requires quota of votes. Interestingly, the quota comes out to be absolute majority. Thus election is more near to alternative vote system but termed as proportional.
2] List system
Most representative of all. Mostly used in continental Europe. The merits of the system include 1] Minimum wastage of votes. 2] Elimination of personality factor and importance of the political parties. 3] Gives representation to the weaker candidates who may not have chances to win on their own but can be introduced on the party list. 4] There is no need to give reservation.
In this system, entire country is converted into single constituency. But it is a multi member constituency. Each party will get seat in the legislature in proportion of the votes. Party will send the required number of candidates.
There can also be provision of minimum benchmark. e.g. In Germany, party has to get 5% of the votes to qualify for the seat in the legislature. This system is also advantageous for the parties having national reach rather than regional parties.
Methods of minority representation.
1] Proportional representation – both STV and List system. It is a joint electorate system.
2] Separate electorate – Separate electorate may be threatening to the national unity hence proportional representation is a preferable approach.
3] Reservation like that in India.
1] Many more points can be added to ‘Politics in developing countries’ from the analysis of Indian political parties in Section 1B’
2] Keep track of social movements (e.g. Black Lives Matter, MeToo, Yellow Vest movement, Hong Kong protests, LGBT, etc.) Their causes, demands, nature etc.
3] Keep track of elections and its analysis and some statistics like voter turnout (not much emphasis on political details) in important countries.