Political Parites- PART A

Potential part A questions


Political Party

A political party is an organisation of like-minded people who seek to win elections, govern a country and implement their ideas

Have several functions- for example

  • Act as link between individual and political system
  • Keep government in check by acting as opposition

The current political parties in power in the UK are the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats

In the UK parties fall somewhere on the left-right political spectrum depending on how far toward communism/capitalism they lean

Can have major and minor parties.

eg of major party- Labour

eg of minor party- Greens

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Two Party System

Two major parties, each of which has a strong chance of gaining seats in the legisltaure and winning political power

May be other parties but they do not compete at elections with any hope of winning

Two Party Systems tend to flourise where the FPTP electoral system is used

eg. New Zealands two party system has come under pressure since moving away from FPTP

egs of Two Party Systems

  • USA
  • UK (however recent coalition has brought Lib Dems into power)

Two Party Stystems can be good as it is easier for voters to understand politics and place their vote

Howerver they restrict choice for voters

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The Left-Right Spectrum

The Left-right spectrum is a way of categorising and visualising views on political idealogies.

It is a model used to chart the relative politics of individuals an dparties.

the "left" is associated with those who want change; government intervention and owndership of industry; and strive for equality and social justice eg Communist party of GB

The "right" is associtated with maintenance of the status quo; traidion and individual freedom. eg BNP

Some people may argue that while it might have had some use in explaining the more diverse ideologies of British politics in the past, it has become an increasing blunt tol that is not relevant to the nuanced politics of today

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Minor Parties

Smaller party who gain a small % of the votes

Have little chance of gaining any seats

Not as many members

People may vote for minor parties if they don't want to vote for any of the main parties

eg. BNP

eg. Greens (gained first seat in 2010 election, Brighton)

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·         An ideology is a system of assumptions, beliefs and values about public issues which are part of a comprehensive vision of society.

·         The concept is central to politics as almost every political tendency has some degree of ideological backing.

·          Ideologies help us to explain the political world and point towards what form of political action should be taken in particular circumstances.

·         Eg. Camerons attitude to new conservative ideology is a modernised conservatism

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Party Conference

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Candidate Selection

  • Candidate Selection refers to the process by which a political party selects the person who will represent it in an election
  • In General Elections in the UK, this process has typically been controlled by local party organisations. For example, if one of the major parties had a vacancy in a constituence seat, the local constituency party would selects its next candidate
  • However, in recent years, national party leadership has attempted to exert more influence over the process of candidate selection.
  • Labour Party policy in the mid 90s forced all local Labour organisations to select candidates from all-women shortlists. Similarly, Cameron attempted to implement an "A list" of prospective candidates, in an attempt to bring diversity to the Conservative Party. After objection however, this has been discontinued
  • If a person wants to be selected as a parliamentary candidate for a political party, this can often mean waiting for a suitable constituence vacancy to arise
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Party Whips

  • Party whips are the officials who manage the supporters of their party in the House of Commons and are responsible for maintaining discipline and unity
  • In British politics, the cheif whip is assisted by betwen eight and 10 assistant whips, all members of parliament
  • Organise all the other MPs in a party to vote a certain way
  • A three line whip is a strict instruction to attend and vote, breach of which could result in party expulsion- An example of this is in the case of John Major's government. Nine conservative Members of Parliament had their whips removed after voting against the government on its stance to the Maastricht Treaty. It was also the only time when MPs who are being whipped were co-operating with the opposite side's whips.
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Catch-all party

  • Catch all parties are umbrella or "broker" parties that seek to maximise their voter appeal by reaching out to as many groups as possible, rather than representing specific class, regional or partisan interests
  • The existence of broad catch all parties is one of the things that has maintained the two party system in the UK
  • Labour, conservative and lib dems could be considered "catch all parties" as they are pretty much in the middle of the political spectrum
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  • A manifesto is a document produced early in an election campaign which sets out the ideas, policy proposals and legislative intentions of a political party, intended to form the basis of their programme should they win sufficient electoral support to form a government
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