A party system is a widespread organizational modality for allocating and distributing power and for providing government coalitions in modern democracies. A party system may even define the level or the presence of a democracy. Parties collect votes—representing citizens’ preferences—and turn them into political power; by the interaction of parties within the system, a governing entity (possibly a coalition) emerges. So parties are basic and almost necessary concepts in representative democracies, where voters delegate power to candidates, but are also effective tools to inform voters and to convey opinions in direct democracies. This entry offers a description and classification of party systems and discussion on their determinants and effects.

Classifying Party Systems

The most straightforward way to classify a party system is to refer to the number ...

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