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PARTY SYSTEM: BRITISH AND AMERICAN COMPARED: INTRODUCTION Political parties operate within a constitutional and political environment.

If this environment is different the nature of parties will also be different. It is for this reason that not only the structures of the government in Great Britain and America but also their party systems are similar and dissimilar in several respects. SIMILARITIES: First, in both Great Britain and America there is the bi/two party system. In both the countries, two major parties, Conservative Party and Labour Party in England and Republican and Democratic Party in America-compete actively and effectively with one another to gain power. Third parties and other groupings have frequently emerged in both countries. But they have played the role of innovators of policy, not of holders of office.

Secondly, in Great Britain, as in America, both parties are largely agreed upon the preservation of the existing social and political system. Thirdly, Political parties in both the countries perform a number of functions in common. They define and aggregate views, stimulate popular interest in public affairs, nominate candidates for public office, organize voters for participation in elections, and provide an organizational framework for legislators. Finally, both British and American party organizations have some thing in common. Parties in both the countries have a hierarchy of Committees, Local and National, the latter helping and encouraging the work of the former. In both the countries, there are many societies, Union and Clubs which actively promote the party. DISSIMILARATIES However the dissimilarities between the party system in Great Britain and America are greater than the similarities because the constitutional and political environment in the two countries differ. In the first place, the roles that British and American parties play in their respective political systems are basically different. Parties in Britain exist to take control of the government. Political leaders enjoy considerable authority over both their Parliamentary followers and their supporters outside the parliament. Government in Britain therefore is a party government implementing party programmes. But in America, party government of the British type does not exist because of the separation of the executive from the legislature. Government in America is thus not a party government; it is built in legislative coalitions of an essentially fluid and ad-hoc kind and these coalitions are frequently bipartisan.

Secondly, there is no official opposition in America as it exists in British Parliament. The second largest party in the British House of Commons forms Her Majestys opposition. It criticizes the government and is always ready to form the government. In America, by contrast, members of both Republican and Democratic parties express their opposition to the government. In America, members of the Presidents party can defeat a government measure and yet remain in office. But in Britain, members of the ruling party cannot enjoy the luxury of defeating a government measure and remain in office.

Thirdly, in Britain party is a closely knit parliamentary grouping, a strong centralized bureaucracy and a regularly dues paying membership. But American parties are more porons than their British counterparts. American parties have no clear cut membership arrangements like the British parties.

Fourthly, the distinguishing mark of British parties is that they are parties of principle. They differ in their conceptions of the ideal society, even of democracy itself. The roots of parties and their rivalries in Great Britain are thus of an economic, social, and even ideological character. But the American parties are characterized by the absence of firmly defined and broad social purposes. To Griffith, the roots of parties and the rivalries in America are much more organizational than ideological.

Fifthly, the British parties are more disciplined and united than the American parties. The British party system demands that during its period of power the governing party will be cohesive and that party programmes will be implemented. But there is little expectation that the party line will be followed in America. This is why cross- voting in American Congress is a norm, while in British parliament it is the exception.

Sixth, in organization, British and American parties differ sharply. British parties are powerful national party machines. By contrast, American parties are loosely organized. The national party machinery is small and is rarely able to exercise significant authority. Seventh, one of the principal determinants of party allegiance in American is family tradition. Most American voters take the party of their parents. Such political an castor worship is normally absent in Britain. CONCLUSION; The comparative discussion of party systems of Great Britain and America reveals that in spite of some common feature they differ significantly. This is due to the fact that the British and American political system rest on different model of government, different constitutional arrangements and different socio- cultural government.