Party System | Definition & Types

Party system simply means the formation, structure as well as the organization of political parties. It is concerned with the system of government by political parties in a democratic state. It is the political arrangement permitted by the law for political parties in a particular democratic state to operate. The Nation of Nigeria operates multi party system.  

Types of Party System

ONE PARTY SYSTEM: This is the type where only one political party is legally recognized by law to operate. Under this type no other political party is allowed by law to operate and any opposition party is seen as treason. This system is generally associated with authoritarian governments.

It is also considered to be a continuation of despotic and arbitrary rule associated with absolute governments of the past. In communist state, no effective opposition is allowed, for example, in Germany, there is the German Democratic Republic (Eastern Germany) etc.

DOMINANT PARTY SYSTEM: This exists in state where party competition is allowed and where one political party always achieves an absolute majority of the votes of the electorates, and hence dominates the government. For instance, in South Africa there is no coalition political parties, the national party has been in office since 1948. Also, in India, the Indian National Congress has been the only party in government since independence.

TWO-PARTY SYSTEM: Under this system, there are two major political parties as may be found in the United States of America and Britain, where the two dominant parties have the chances of winning or obtaining majority seats in the legislature after every election.

It has been suggested that a two party system introduces an element of artificiality into the political process. Two-party system does not mean that only two political parties exist in the country but it means that only two parties are viable to form the government.

MULTI-PARTY SYSTEM: This type is mostly practiced in European States. For instance, Multi-party system has operated in countries such as Italy, Switzerland, France under the third of fourth republic, Nigeria under the first, second as well as fourth republic. It is found, where there are parliamentary or cabinet system of governments. In multi party system, government tends to be a coalition of more than one party.

Therefore, conclusively, multi party system of government is a situation whereby more than two political parties are allowed by law to operate in the state or in the country. Currently Nigeria is practicing multi party system; which has now cause the rise of many political parties in Nigeria.

INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE: There is a constitutional provision that allows for an individual to run for a political position without belonging to any political party. Individual politicians not belonging to any political party can contest for an election where the state law permits that.

There are numerous reasons why some may stand for office as an independent candidate. Independent candidate may hold a contrast view point between those of political parties. An independent candidate can hold a view more extreme than any major party, an idea from both sides of the spectrum. For instance in Kuwait, political parties are illegal and all candidates effectively stand as independent candidate.

In United States of America, George Washington was the only president elected as an independent candidate, as he was not formally linked to any political party during his two terms. Recent notable candidates running for US President include John Anderson in 1980, Rossperot in 1992 and former Green party Candidate Ralph Nadder in the 2004 and 2008 election.

In Nigeria, political reformers and social crusaders are calling for the amendment of electoral act in Nigeria to give room for independent candidate to contest in election.