Europe’s elections are fast and unpredictable. With this, what Americans call “third parties” flourish, and sometimes, become the major parties in Europe. Parties are eminently more important than the individualistic politics practiced in the U.S. Just looking at the campaigning, U.S. elections seem to go on forever while the others like the U.K. (in which the prime minister calls the elections in 6 weeks) are comparably less hectic and much cheaper. Additionally, many of the European countries use party-list representation as a portion of the seats so minor parties have a much easier time to win. In the U.S., minor parties have to hope for both the major parties to be weak so that they can sneak through, provided that they’re strong/innovative/creative enough (i.e. Jesse Ventura for the Minnesota governorship in 1998 with the Reform Party and Angus King for Maine’s U.S. Senate seat in 2012).
Patrick Jackson of BBC News in Anti-Establishment Parties Defy EU has done a nice summary of the upstarts in a select few European countries. The recession has made some voters vote with the mindset of “throw the bums out”. One of the best has come from Italy’s Five Star Movement which has pledged to never work with the major parties. Greece, mostly because of the bailouts and the restrictions related to it, saw the rise of 2 new parties, one far left (Syriza) and the other far right (Golden Dawn). The closest that the U.S. has ever come to “throwing the bums out” in the recent past were the 2010 midterm elections; however, the first-past-the-post system only switched control of one chamber of the legislative branch (the House), from the Democrats to the Republicans, both of who are major parties. The way in which the U.S. system works only to provide for the possibility of 2 parties which leads to greater stability but the maintenance of the status quo. The best democracy is in the eye of the beholder, and who is to say that our form of democracy is the best? Seeing the past few years of deadlock and partisanship with the recency of the scandals regarding the Benghazi, the IRS, and the AP, maybe the democracy that the U.S. preaches is the best, isn’t really the best?
- Italy: in a democratic and constitutional crisis? (blokkerpaul.wordpress.com)
- People are under-represented in Representative Democracy (sorabhbajaj.wordpress.com)
- The inherent dangers of democracy (paddyblewer.wordpress.com)
- Give Democracy a Chance (blogs4victory.wordpress.com)