Get complete information on the origin of party Systems



There are three categories relating to the origin of the party system as discussed below:

The human nature theory:

Under this category, three kinds of explanations have been put forward for explaining the origin of the party system. Firstly scholars like Sir Henry Main argue that what causes parties to rise is the characteristic tendency of human nature towards combativeness. In other words, human beings form parties to give organized expression to their combative instinct.

The second category of explanation under the human nature theory identifies the human temperament as the cause of the emergence of political parties. To put is differently, the diverse temperaments of individuals lead them to form different parties for instance, while persons having liking for the established order join right of the political divide, others opposing the existing order join left of the political spectrum. In other words, those who do not support change in existing system form one party, and those who want reforms and changes get together in another party.

Third explanation concerning the human nature of origin of parties runs in terms of the charismatic traits of political leaders. Since the dormant masses need leadership to articulate their latent feelings, formation of a political party depends upon the availability of dynamic political leadership who can inspire masses to work towards achieving the goals of a particular party.

The Environmental Explanation

In addition to the above-mentioned explanations, considerable data is available to show the role of the socio-economic environment in the evolution of the party system. The modern Democratic Party system, for instance, is the result of at least two significant political developments: the limitation of the authority of the absolute monarchy and the extension of the suffrage to virtually all the adult population.

It is thus not surprising to find the historic roots of the party system both in the struggle of the legislature to limit the king's prerogative and in the development of groups within the expanded electorate taking sides in the battle or demanding recognition of their interests.

By 1680 the public policy of Britain had become the joint concern of both King and Parliament, and the terms 'Whig' and 'Tory' were commonly applied to those who, respectively, attacked and supported royal policy.

Interest Theory

As usual, while the above-mentioned explanations are partly correct, no single explanation is adequate or completely true. Combativeness, for instance, is only one of the various motivations of human behavior. Similarly, age is an uncertain element as an indicator of political attitude and dynamism of political leader is not permanent.

In view of the inadequacies of the aforesaid explanations regarding the origin of the party system, the "interest theory" is advanced as a widely recognized hypothesis. This theory is based on the basic assumption that various parties are formed on the basis of various interests. In other words, parties serve as convenient agencies for the expression of individual and group interests.

The nature, extent and degree of an individual's political activities are motivated by the range of interests he develops. These interests grow out of interaction of his/her personality with his/her cultural environment. Birth, education or a chance experience may, thus, determine an individual's interest which, in turn, may determine party affiliations.

While the 'interest theory' recognizes the significance of economic interests on influencing an individual or group's decision to join a particular party or combination of parties, this theory does not agree with the Marxist assumption of economic determinism and its concomitant dichotomy of social classes.

In fact, to reduce social tensions to two embattled groups of "haves" and have- notes" all along the economic line is to oversimplify a complex phenomenon. One may, therefore, argue that the human beings tend to support and vote for the political party that holds the prospect of achieving their desired economic as well as socio-cultural objectives.