Since this is a mostly american forum, I am pretty sure I will get some answers here to some questions which I had since quite some time now.
How can you stand the fact that you only have 2 political parties? It would drive me crazy. Here in germany lobbyism is already a huge problem but you are basically inviting corruption and special interests groups. We have currently 5 parties which had enough votes to get into the "Bundestag" (similar to congress I guess).
George WTF. Bush.
His administration lied and is responsible for the death of countless soldiers and innocent civilians. Instead of fighting terrorism, it just provoked additional hatred towards western civilisation. And the whole war on terror weakened you in a time where china is catching up to you. I mean, I can fully understand Afghanistan, but shouldn't someone stand trial for the lies that led to the disaster called Operation Iraqi Freedom? Or the torture going on in Guantanamo Bay? People being held without a fair trial? (there was even an incident where a german has been captured by the CIA IN GERMANY and taken there, he had to be released because he had been proven to be innocent and because of political intervention)
That shit would drive me nuts if my government would have been responsible.
Occupy Wall Street. These great people finally came together to protest against the grotesque situation that one percent of the population holds 40% of all wealth in the United States. And against lobbyism. And against corporate-funded political races. And against many other things that are so extremely F* up in your country and elsewhere (we have similar problems). The very fact that the media and local authority is actively fighting them and different local administrations are organizing against them should make you all the more want to join or at least support them, shouldn't it? Just hearing about this movement has given me more hope that your country does have a future.
Well, other questions will come but I don't want to pack too much into one topic. I would just like to hear your thoughts on these things.
Well, maybe I can give you some more insight into a political system with more than two parties, since that is the state of this country. When you have several parties, not one of them normally gets more than 50% of the vote, so most of the time two parties have to get together (sometimes more, but I can not remember that happening before).
Additionally, to stop a conglomerate of a lot of little parties, we have the 5% hurdle of course, no party beneath that can get into the Bundestag. That is why seldom new parties become very successfull, but given recent events, 2 parties gained enough support lately that one of them got inside and the other probably will in the next election. (one of them being actually communist and the other against the state continuing it's policy regarding the internet - the pirate party)
Of course there have to be compromises and the coalitions which end up controlling policy usually make some kind of contract regarding the policy of the next legislature period, dependent on which of them got how many votes. Angela Merkel belongs to the CDU, the 'Christian Democratic Union' (which is not quite as bad as it sounds, the christian 'just' stands for their values)
They are conservative and got together with the FDP, the 'Free Democratic Party' which is close to your libertarians, except that here it is the worst party we have, because they are the most corrupt. I don't want to go too much into detail here, so I'm not going to say why, but they have proven to do a very bad job.
So in the next election, we will probably have the SPD, the 'Social Democratic Party' alongside the (literally translated) 'The Greens' (which means what it sounds like) or perhaps even 'The Left-wings' (loosely translated).
Why am I mentioning this? Because depending on the outcome of the vote, you get our counterpart of your Democrats or Republicans, but even though they have to compromise within themselves, that is far outweighed by the possibility to shift your opinion no matter if you are for right or left wing. If you think (like many here do) that the SPD has done a bad job but the CDU is even worse, you can give your vote to The Greens or The Left-wings and still get pretty close to what you want.
Two things I want to mention, the first being that it is great how the abbreviations still work if you translate the name and the second being that you need to understand that we are a social democracy (that is the official term), so we have neat things like social security and health care for everyone.
Coming from a country with no limits on the number of parties or independent candidates, I think I can talk about #1.
With multiple parties, a candidate can win the election without a majority vote. Lets just take a simple 3 party system. parties 1 & 2 get 30% votes each & party 3 gets 40% votes, party 3 wins even though 60% of the people didn't want party 3 to win. And that's just with 3 parties, imagine what happens when you throw more parties into the mix, like your 5 party system or the Indian multi-party system. And with so many sides to choose from, disagreements lead to either change of party or forming of a new one. Also leads to a lot of favor trading amongst parties to get stuff done & small parties or individuals gain too much importance as kingmakers or tie breakers.
You could try and solve the first problem by having a priority voting system in which you pick your top 3 candidates but that only makes it more complicated & doesn't do anything to address the other issues.
You seem to continue to believe that we have a set limit on the number of parties. As I explained, we have no limit. And in fact we have other parties. They are just irrelevant. Americans simply don't seem to want more than two parties. And did it ever occur to you that all the horse trading for votes you described going on in your system can actually go on within our two parties?
I wasn't commenting on the American system, I was merely talking about the disadvantages that a multi-party system has.
There are problems with both approaches, one leads to all kinds of chaos & the other establishes a duopoly.
But at least in your duopoly, people can belong to one party & have different views and have major disagreements, in our multi-party chaos, it's the party-way or the highway. You either agree with the hierarchy or you jump ship.
We have two parties by choice, although the Tea Party proves you can pretty much have a party within a party. Time will tell if it splits off into a third party.
The term "de facto" implies that it's a fact we have two parties, and taken literally like that, it's wrong. Click here and you may discover that the problem is that there are so many third parties that none have much chance of garnering a relevant pool of members.
We just only, at this time in our history, have only two parties with any practical chance of offering a national candidate. Within the states you sometimes find third parties powerful enough to influence elections or even win enough votes to get a candidate into state or local office. Not on the national level, however.
Sorry, I mistook you for the original (German) poster. You nicely described the chaos and undemocratic aspect of multiple party politics where parties with very small constituencies wield power far out of proportion to their size and impose their agendas on the majority.
But the fact is that this is not happening here. If you believe it or not, politicians can sit together and get to an agreement that is fair and representative for the amounts of votes each party has. Both have to compromise, but the bigger party has to compromise less.
I will adress your fear by stating an example. Let's say there are Party A,B,C & D.
The votes are: A:40% B:40%, C:11%, D:9%
As you see, each A and B would compete for C to get the majority. But let's say for the sake of argument that Party C is the KKK-Party and demands that racial segregation is reinstated for them to join a coalition. Both Party A and B know that if they comply, voters will be really pissed off and they have no chance to get reelected. So they either have to convince party C to demand something less ridiculous or they have to get together to become a "great coalition" as we had it in the last legislature period (a lot of people were pretty unhappy about it but the alternative was to make a coalition with "the left-wings", who actively promote some kind of democratic communism, and no one wanted that).
But, again for the sake of argument, let's say that both of them can not decide because they are too different, like the republicans and the democrats and they are unable to get to a reasonable solution. Then both would try to get D on their side to make a minority coalition which would just need to convince circa. 4% of all the other representatives (2 out of 51 remaining %) to pass each law. That would be the worst case scenario and something which hasn't happened for a long time, if at all. Even the great coalition has been very, very rare. And if you have an even amount of parties, two of them normally win out. They parties with fewer votes know they have to be reasonable in their demands because otherwise their coalition partner will just say no, additionally to their voters being pissed off and not voting for them again because they themselves were responsible for not getting into the "winning" coalition for ridiculous reasons.
Parau. You have it 100% right on the nose. I originally wrote a very long post here; but then I read Gabriela's response and she said everything I did in only three words; "fascism," "imperialism," and "capitalism." These things brought down your country and they will soon bring down mine. Fortunately, I'm 76 and will not likely see it happen. Instead, I will die with the memory of a time when I was young and my country was as great as it thinks it is.
Good sir, I hope you will live to be a 100+ years old to so that you will experience your country change for the better because surely things need to change in America!
I agree with Gabriela's keyword answers. They are not exact answers of course but we do see the tendencies they imply.
@Dale you are 76 not 96, you still have some things left to see hopefully it will be "the change" that Mr. Obama talks so much about.
That is the saddest thing I have read in a long time. But even though I can understand your cynicism, I think US citizens are mostly sleeping. As soon as certain boundaries are overcome, they will wake up. OWS is an indication for that, even if it was but a glimpse of what's to come once your people really get mad. Let's hope it is not too late when that happens.
The short answer is that all three things make me angry and disappointed in my country so much so that I just want to get out. I've kind of got an anywhere but here attitude at the moment. Given my partner's job (he works with German accounts at his company) I might just end up in your country in a few years and get to know a little better what it's problems are.