The Development Of The Modern Party System In Western Europe

2309 words - 9 pages

The concept of Political Parties has been an evolving concept and framework that emerged after the American formation of political parties in the 18th century. Political scientist Edmond Burke, stated in 1770 that political parties are “ a body of men united for promoting, by joint endeavors, some principles which they all agree.” Professor Feigenbaum broadened upon this definition by stating that political parties are institutions that represent diverse yet compatible interests . Both of these definitions led to recognition that political parties develop in a nation parallel to the development of the society and show the nations cleavages and triumphs. Thus, the recent changes to the political parties in The United Kingdom, France, and Germany are parallel to the recent changes in their society, such as the evolution of new social movements that have changed the electoral composition and decentralized the basic party organizations.
The foundation of the classic British two-party political system of the Conservative and the Labour party was founded in the 19th century where the concerns and interests of the British population were all economically and class based. The Conservative party foundations lie in the ability of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s abilities to create a, “long-lasting alliance between an upper class leadership and a lower-class following .” It has followed until recently, due to David Cameron modernization of party ideals, has followed a platform of conservatism and unionism and has relied on the support of the upper class and the lower class. The Labour Party developed during the industrial revolution as the need for a party that was founded by trade union representatives and represents the interests of the emerging urban bourgeoisie class. It was until 1945 that the Labour Party became a major political player due to the ongoing support of the middles class. The two-party system described above, whose voters and platforms were divided by class continued until 1975, when due to economic stagnation Margaret Thatcher created a new era of British Politics based on her development of the enterprise culture. This new culture emphasized individual responsibilities and weakened the notion of collective identity that had characterized party loyalty for the past decade. Thatcher’s reforms are on the main factors that led to political culture and political party loyalty in Britain shifting to a focus and party grouping based on commonalities of views of “values and policy agenda’s,” rather then “common socio-economic status .”In 1987, The Liberal Democratic party emerged as the Liberal Party and The Social Democratic Party and moderates from the Labor Party merged to form a centrist alternative to the dominating two parties. This new party was more policy-oriented with a focus on the welfare state and opposition of America’s War in Iraq. The Labour party responded to this by reforming their now ideological platform to a new...

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