Dominant-party system facts for kids

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A dominant-party system is a party system where only one political party can realistically become the government, by itself or in a coalition government, because all other parties are too weak.

Dominant-party systems are not to be confused with single-party systems, when other parties cannot compete to become the government because they are banned. Dominant-party systems exist only in states where other political parties are tolerated, but do not receive enough votes to have a realistic chance of winning. However, in some dominant-party systems, opposition parties are subject to varying degrees of official harassment and most often deal with rules and electoral systems designed to put them at a disadvantage or in some cases outright electoral fraud.

Examples of dominant-party systems include National Democratic Party in Egypt, the PRI in Mexico from the 1920s until 2000, the PAP in Singapore, the Democratic Party in the southern United States from about 1880 until the 1960s, and the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan from the 1950s until the present.

Dominant-party systems can occur temporarily. This can often occur when a two-party system is the norm, but one of the two parties sees a massive drop in support, often due to scandal or similar massive upset. An example of this is, arguably, the United Kingdom between 1979 and 1997 (18 years) where the Conservative party won all four elections in that period. Previously, in the post-war period, the government had rotated from Labour Party to Conservative Party five times.

Contemporary Canada would also qualify as a dominant-party system, with the Liberal Party being quite dominant since 1896 ruling almost three quarters of the time in that period, and continuously since 1993. In the party's history, Edward Blake is the only leader of the Liberal Party ever to not have been Prime Minister of Canada at some time. For some of the period, including today, the Liberals have ruled in a minority government.

Though the United States as a whole is characterized by a competitive two-party system, some individual states may qualify as a dominant-party system.


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