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Introduction
What are Parties for
How Parties have Adapted to Change - Cadre Party
How Parties Have Adapted to Change - The Mass Membership Party
How Parties Have Adapted to Change - The Catch-All Party
How Parties Have Adapted to Change - The Cartel Party
Describing Party Systems
Theories of Party Systems -The Frozen Party System
Theories of Party Systems - The Downs Model
Theories of Party Systems - Satori
The New Party System
How do voters decide who to vote for
How do voters decide who to vote for - The Michigan Studies
How do voters decide who to vote for - Social Class
How do voters decide who to vote for - Partisan Dealignment
Issue Voting
Single Member Constituencies
Electoral Bias
Electoral Geography of Great Britain
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Conservatives
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Labour
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Liberals
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Plaid Cymru
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - SNP
Electoral Geography in Great Britain - UKIP
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Green Party
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Respect
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - BNP
General Election Campaign - Choosing the Date
General Election Campaign
General Election Campaign - The Media
General Election Campaigns - Three types of Media
General Election Campaigns - Opinion Polls
General Election Campaigns - turn-out
Why did people vote the way they did - Social Class
Why did people vote the way they did - Housing Tenure
Why did people vote the way they did - Age
Why did people vote the way they did - Gender
Why did people vote the way they did - Ethnicity
The result and government formation
Introduction
What are Parties for
How Parties have Adapted to Change - Cadre Party
How Parties Have Adapted to Change - The Mass Membership Party
How Parties Have Adapted to Change - The Catch-All Party
How Parties Have Adapted to Change - The Cartel Party
Describing Party Systems
Theories of Party Systems -The Frozen Party System
Theories of Party Systems - The Downs Model
Theories of Party Systems - Satori
The New Party System
How do voters decide who to vote for
How do voters decide who to vote for - The Michigan Studies
How do voters decide who to vote for - Social Class
How do voters decide who to vote for - Partisan Dealignment
Issue Voting
Single Member Constituencies
Electoral Bias
Electoral Geography of Great Britain
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Conservatives
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Labour
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Liberals
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Plaid Cymru
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - SNP
Electoral Geography in Great Britain - UKIP
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Green Party
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - Respect
Electoral Geography of Great Britain - BNP
General Election Campaign - Choosing the Date
General Election Campaign
General Election Campaign - The Media
General Election Campaigns - Three types of Media
General Election Campaigns - Opinion Polls
General Election Campaigns - turn-out
Why did people vote the way they did - Social Class
Why did people vote the way they did - Housing Tenure
Why did people vote the way they did - Age
Why did people vote the way they did - Gender
Why did people vote the way they did - Ethnicity
The result and government formation
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University 18 Yrs + | Parties and Voting

Theories of Party Systems

Sartori and the Structure of Party Systems

Giovanni Sartori, the Italian political scientist, was reacting against sociological explanations of parties and wanted to treat parties as independent institutions from a more clearly political science point of view. 

Sartori was also unhappy with Duverger’s division of party systems into either two party or multi-party and developed a  more detailed classification of parties based on three criteria:

  • The number of significant parties.  Significance is defined by whether a party is a potential coalition partner or whether a party has blackmail potential because its appeal can attract voters away from another party.
  • If the parties are ranked along a left-right continuum, the distance between the most left wing and the most right wing party i.e between the two poles of the party system.
  • The interaction between the poles i.e. whether parties are converging towards the centre or diverging towards more extreme positions.

Based on these criteria, Sartori defined a number of party system types of which the most important were moderate pluralist and polarized pluralist. 

He held that two party systems and limited pluralist systems with low ideological distances would be centripetal and converge towards the centre, while more polarised systems with 3-5 parties would suffer instability and opposition to the governing parties from anti-system parties to the left and right (the post-war party system in Italy until the dramatic changes in the 1990s fits this pattern and no doubt influenced Sartori’s views).  

Paul Pennings criticised Sartori based on a study of party systems in the 1980s and 1990s which shows that it was the more polarized systems that were converging to the centre in policy positions (‘The Triad of the Party System ’ in P. Pennings and J-E Lane (eds.)  Comparing Party System Change, 1998 and see the reply by Jocelyn Evans in Party Politics Vol 8 No 2, 2002).)(Also see Tom Quinn Political Studies Vol 62 No 2, 2013 for a recent use of Sartori’s theory in looking at the British party system).

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