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Erik Moberg ã:
A Theory of Democratic Politics
 
 

15 - PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUTIONS WITH MAJORITARIAN ELECTIONS: THE MAIN ACTORS' INTERACTIONS

In part 7 I wrote that the mechanisms reducing the number of parties are strong in this type of system. These mechanisms may, in some cases, reduce the number of parties to just two. The figure in part 7 illustrates such a case. Obviously, as I mentioned in that part, there may also be more than two parties. Here, in this part, and in the following parts 16-18, I will however concentrate on the two-party case. The reason is that this case has important unique properties, since there will not be any coalition building. If, on the contrary, there are more than two parties we are likely to get coalition politics, and the analysis, although different in some respects, will also have important similarities with the analysis of proportional, parliamentary systems.

The most important fact in the two-party case is that there is normally no interaction at all between the main actors. The biggest party, that is the party which won the last general election, is likely have a safe majority of its own. That party will thus form the executive single-handedly. There will not be any need for the party to co-operate with the other party. The governing party will act alone. In this respect the system differs starkly from the three other main types of constitutional systems we are considering here.

There may, however, be exceptions to this general rule. Thus, if the biggest party's majority is narrow, relatively strong and independent, individual legislators of the governing party may be able to challenge the party leadership. Such legislators may for example force the party leadership to change some proposal in some way, or to deliver some other kind of favor, for example for the legislators' local constituencies. In these situations individual main actors thus become important, and the governing party main actor will have to deal with them. This, of course, is tantamount to main actor interaction.

Here, after having said what there is to say about main actor interaction in a narrow sense, I could end this part. It does, however, seem fitting to add a few consequences of the general rule of no main actor interaction at all, since they constitute contrasts to the preceding proportional variety of parliamentarism. Here are two consequences of that kind.