The Concept of Political Party Dominance and Democracy
The concept of competitive political parties is often considered an essential factor in the pursuit of democracy. As such, in many aspects, single-party dominance showcase authoritarian governance since it ignores elements of democracy. Japan and Mexico are interesting nations for political analysts in the lens influence of single party and transformation to democracy. Indeed, a century. While Japan achieved democracy decades ago, the country has been led by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since the party's founding in 1955 except for a brief period in the 1990sand many ways the country remains a single-party state. Mexico, on the other hand, has had experience with a single-hegemonic party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for seven decades until 2000. The article provides a systematic understanding of the nature party dominance concentrating on the cases of LDP in Japan and the PRI in Mexico in addition to seeking perspective from the history of China. The paper advances some explanations to account for the variations in the concept of party dominance in the three countries.
Japan's Transformation to Democracy
In a century, Japan went from a secluded outdated society to a stable democracy and an economic powerhouse. Japan developed the Japanese constitution in 1946 which is still active and has never been amended. The law placed sovereignty in the hands of the people rather than the emperor as was evident previously in Meiji Constitution (Dickovick and Eastwood 485). Additionally, the constitution advocated for human freedom and rights which gave political parties that were previously banned were formed leading to the formation of Japan Socialist Party and the Communist party.
The Dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan
However, since its establishment in 1955, LDP has enjoyed a mostly uninterrupted dominance in the Japanese politics. The supremacy of LDP is ascribed to activities that transverse the electoral systems and the economic vigor of the country. Due to the nature of the electoral system in Japan coupled with the popularity of LDP the party was not necessarily responsive to the wishes of the electorate. The political system in Japan revolves around the exchange of benefit for voter support which LDP had harnessed efficiently to maintain their popularity (Dickovick and Eastwood 487). During its period of dominance, Japan was in a state where the political parties' elites worked with the business community to improve the economy of the country. Many attributed the loss of party for LDP in the 1980s, and the necessity to build coalitions indicate the end of the post-war bargain where the government maintained economic stability and growth in exchange for votes. Another reason for LDP continued dominance is the fragmentation of the opposition which indicated no party would be able to garner as much attention as LDP (Dickovick and Eastwood 486). However, the DJP took governance in 2009 suggesting the rebirth of the opposition. In the 2012 elections, LDP took power, but it is unlikely the party will enjoy the level of dominance it once had due to the popularity of DJP.
The Dominance of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico
While Mexico is technically a representative democracy, the PRI dominated Mexican politics in the majority of the 20th century. The party was formed in 1929 by former President Plutarco Elias Calles in an era of clash with the Roman Catholic Church, agitation within the military and issues with the USA and as such represented institutionalization of a power structure as a result of the Mexican revolution of 1910 to 1920. The party dominated a majority of the elected offices established tight regulation on social organizations and reduced political competition. However, the PRI was able to maintain widespread support among the citizenry due to the ability to promote economic growth and increase the standards of living. Indeed, the support of the public to a large extent explains the decades of PRI dominance in the country's politics. While many countries in Latin America experience turbulences related to the choice between the authoritarian and democratic rule, Mexico enjoyed peaceful transfer of power since the 1920s to the 1990s longer than several European countries.
Economic Accountability and Political Dominance
The economic stability and growth in both Japan and Mexico under the LDP and the PRI respectively reflect on the importance of economic accountability. Both parties were able to cement their control by gaining widespread support from the citizenry. In many cases, economic growth associated with increased standards of living often appease the public and investors who in return finance and vote in support of the party. Additionally, another cause of political dominance of LDP is associated with fragmentation in the opposition while PRI made a conscious effort to control social organizations and reduce political competition in the country. On comparison which party maintained an extensive power, it is evident PRI stayed in power for an extended period with uninterrupted opposition. LDP, on the other hand, enjoyed three decades of leadership and in the 1980s the party's grip on power began to fall hence necessitating coalitions. Despite the current popularity of both parties in their respective countries, it is unlikely they will enjoy the dominance apparent in the 20th century (Dickovick and Eastwood 487).
The Dominance of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in China
China, on the other hand, represents the world's ancient civilizations dating back to more than three millenniums. Like both Japan and Mexico, the communist regime that established the People's Republic of China (PRC) back in 1949 has ruled the country since then. The party, Communist Party of China (CPC) or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has dominated the country's political arena for decades. The political power in CCP has been highly concentrated in the hands of the paramount leaders, for instance, Mao Zedong from 1949 to Deng Xiaoping from 1978 to 1997 indicating an aspect of personalism. Consequently, like the case in Japan and Mexico CCP dominance was majorly established after a period of political turmoil in China, the Chinese Civil war and world war two, hence the citizenry acceptance of the state dominance so long as the economy stabilizes. As such, in this sense, the party state strikes a truce with the society.
In many cases, the transition from tyrannies to democracy often involve several stages where an authoritarian government allows limited political participation which in many cases cause instability in the authoritarian regime and the subsequent fall. However, the fact of single-party dominance and democracy differs in Japan, Mexico, and China. It is evident in the three countries, the dominance of the single parties, the LDP in Japan, PRI in Mexico and CCP was cement with periods of an economic upsurge in the countries where a quiet truce existed between the public and the state. Additionally, the parties emerged after periods of political issues and often promised a better society. However, it is crucial to notice Mexico in the 20th century was not considered a democracy since it did not showcase democratic practices. While Japan was considered a stable democracy in the period of LDP, political analysts perceive the rise of opposition as an essential step into a full multi-party democracy in the country. China, on the other hand, welcomes westernization while maintaining their communist affiliations.
Dickovick, Tyler J and Jonathan Eastwood . Comparitive Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods and Cases . Oxford University Press , 2015.