Sample Political Science Paper on Party Voting Systems

Question 1

The United States has two party voting system not because of lack of third parties but due
to the way voters exercise their duties. The two main but distinct systems are plurality voting and
proportional representation. On one hand, in plurality voting system, each person has single vote
which they vote for one candidate in their district, in which there is only one available legislative
seat (Zhou, 2018). Hence, in this voting system, the winner of the available seat is determined by
the candidate with the most votes thereby discouraging development of third parties leading to a
two-party system. On the contrary, the proportional representation (PR) is an electoral system
that seeks to form a representative body that shows the overall distribution of political popularity
from the general public (Zhou, 2018). Therefore, unlike plurality that favors strong parties, PR
ensures that minor parties are represented based on the percentage of their popularity in a
country.

Question 2

Although there are often many political parties in an electoral system, most people tend
to vote for two parties. According to Duverger, the plurality voting system mean that each voter
can cast a single vote in favor of a particular candidate (Zhou, 2018). As a result, the candidate
with the most votes becomes the winner and thus represents the district. Plurality voting is hard
on small parties due to voter psychology. Whereas one candidate may be the preferred
representative, being in a small party would lead to people thinking that voting for them is a
waste of vote and thereby split between the two strongest parties (Zhou, 2018). Furthermore, the
voters tend to support either of the strongest candidate to prevent the person they hate from

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winning the elections. Hence, due to the spoiler effect and psychologic influence, plurality leads
to two parties.

Question 3

According to Zhou (2018), Besides Duverger’s law, there are three factors that influence
the number of parties namely; ballot access, geographic concentration, and unique political
issues.

Question 4

A party is considered important when it is coalitional or has blackmail potential. Sartori
argues that parties that fail to win seats in parliament should be disregarded and that the number
of seats should determine the strength of a party (Lijphart, 2012). He further states that such
parties with more parliamentary seats are relevant since they are “coalition potential” or
“blackmail potential”. For a party to be considered as coalition potential, it means that it has
participated in governing coalitions or if the major parties consider it as a possible coalition
partner. However, large parties that are ideologically unacceptable or lacks potential coalition are
still considered as relevant due to their strength. Hence, a party that lies on this category due to
its power of intimidation is considered to have blackmail potential of the opposition-oriented
parties. Furthermore, for a party to have effective blackmail potential there are two criteria that
are crucial namely; size and ideological compatibility. Sufficiently large parties have blackmail
potential due to their strength in representation (Lijphart, 2012). Nonetheless, small parties can
still have blackmail potential when they have ideological compatibility such representing a
certain religion in a country despite the population.
Question 5

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When counting the effective number of parties there are two distinct categories that arise
namely; closely allied and fictionalized parties. In closely allied, the parties are so tightly
twinned in regards to their ideologies that they appear as one and not two separate entities.
Conversely, in fictionalized, the parties lack perfect cohesion that they tend to appear as separate
entities.

Question 6

A. Advantages of Electoral College
1. It maintains minorities’ rights so that equal protection exists. It ensures that each
community represents their views on the best course of action for the country (Ahmed,
2016).
2. Its design supports a simplified two-party system and thus voters get the chance to
change the leaders after every election period (Eichen, 2019).
3. It encourages equality since it does not require a 50% majority vote to create an electoral.
In cases where a winner gains more votes in Electoral College than in popular vote,
he/she tends to dominate debates (Posner, 2012).
4. It eliminates the threat of a nationwide recount. Even though one may not win in popular
votes, when there is a high margin in Electoral College, a recount would not occur.
B. Disadvantages of Electoral College
1. Some voters have more representation in the election than others. Since the structure of
the Electoral College is based on population, some voters have a ballot that carries more
weight (Illing, 2016).

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2. It no longer serves the intended purpose. The aim of the Electoral College is to ensure
that a person without necessary qualifications does not control the executive branch but
the election of Ronald Reagan disapproves its purpose (Tarr, 2019).
3. It prevents the majority candidate the chance to enjoy their popularity. While the popular
votes may mean that a candidate is preferred by the majority, the minority candidate may
still end in White House.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Multiparty System

Advantages
The multiparty system bears various merits. Firstly, it gives people the opportunity to
choose from many options. Secondly, it encourages a peaceful shift from one government to
another. Thirdly, since there are many options, it allows the minority groups to get equal
representation. Fourthly, this form of system allows many opposition parties to exist thereby
encouraging optimal results. Lastly, it enhances positive and open criticism on the policies of the
government.
Disadvantages
While the multiparty system has numerous benefits, it also has various demerits. Firstly,
it is expensive to operate as the parties vigorously struggle to gain most votes. Secondly, it leads
to difficulty in forming the ruling government as no one party can gain power alone. Thirdly, due
to the numerous available choices, the electorates may be confused and choose the wrong
candidate. Lastly, due to the many choices, the nation may be divided as the parties may be
formed based on ethnic or religious lines.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Two-Party System

Advantages

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A country that utilizes a two-party system has a set of merits. Firstly, the system limits
the amount of extremism in the government. Secondly, it encourages eligible people to vie in an
election. Thirdly, it hastens the governing process for the country. Thirdly, it encourages
majority representation in the government. Lastly, the system motivates citizens to start
participating in the local government.
Disadvantages
While a two-party system may be beneficial, it also has various demerits. Firstly, the
system forms inconsistencies in governing patterns in a country. Secondly, it encourages parties
to have fixed ideologies with a set of political views. Thirdly, it discourages the presentation of
new ideas of the electorate. Lastly, it limits the choices of voters thereby creating exclusiveness.
Therefore, both the multiparty and two-party systems have a set of advantages and disadvantages
in a country.

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References

Ahmed, A. (2016, December 23). In defense of Electoral College. The American Prospect.
Retrieved from https://prospect.org/civil-rights/defense-electoral-college/.
Eichen, A. (2019, August 2). The case against Electoral College is stronger than ever. The New
Republic. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/154598/case-electoral-college-
stronger-ever.
Illing, S. (2016, November 12). The real reason we have an Electoral College: To protect slave
states. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-
politics/2016/11/12/13598316/donald-trump-electoral-college-slavery-akhil-reed-amar.
Lijphart, A. (2012). Chapter 5: Party systems: Two-party and multiparty systems. In Pattern of
democracy: Government forms and performance in thirty-six countries (pp. 60-78). Yale
University Press/ New Haven and London.
Posner, R. A. (2012, November 12). In defense of the Electoral College. Slate. Retrieved from
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2012/11/defending-the-electoral-college.html.
Tarr, G. A. (2019, November 29). Five common misconceptions about the Electoral College. The
Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/11/five-
common-misconceptions-about-electoral-college/602596/.
Zhou, A. (2018, October 11). Duverger’s law and the two-party system explained [Video file].
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpBRGXK-QNs&feature=emb_title.