23 Mar 2015
As each country becomes more developed through time, individuals are also gradually receiving better education which propelled them to think about ways to improve their lives. Although everyone is different, they generally have similar ideas because of similar living conditions. The history of political parties began back in the 1600s by the Ancient Greeks (Flanders, 2007). Although it was not organized or anything like the current political parties now, people did group themselves together with others that had similar ideas. In this assignment, the political parties of United States of America and Singapore would be explored and evaluated for their similarities and differences.
Political parties refer to groups of people who come together because they share similar ideas and they support specific public policies (Ginsberg, 2011). The purpose of a political party is to elect candidates who would be able to represent them and to push for their ideas to be carried out in the government.
Political parties in recent years are much more organized as compared to the past. They are able to provide official office spaces for the candidates and they plan campaigns to influence people who might share similar values as them. It creates a more civilised society with the systematic approach towards improving the citizens' standard of living and every individual would have a say in what they support by voting. This had also reduced violence and riots that may have been caused because of different values among people.
Political parties play a critical role in every country. Their existence allows people to be able to link candidates to the kind of policies and values they support. It acts as a symbol and helps people to easily identify the candidates' stand on certain issues.
Back in the 1700s, United States had wanted a strong central government who are able to carry out all the policies. This had led to the formation of Federalists in 1787, which was the first political party in U.S. The first president, George Washington took over the office in 1789 and ruled for 8 years until 1797. However, during his ruling, anti-federalists, also known as the Jeffersonian Republicans or the Democratic-Republicans, emerged to represent a different social class - the small farmers, artisans and planters. This had resulted in a two-party system model which had been followed by the U.S. until today (Flanders, 2007).
In 1801, Thomas Jefferson took over the presidency while representing the Democratic-Republican Party. Federalism ended after the war of 1812 which was caused by the tension between United States and Great Britain. The Democratic-Republican Party had then ruled for a period of time before Jackson's presidency in 1828 where he renamed the party to Democratic Party while his opponents, who were once Federalists, formed the Whig Party. The two-party system remained with strong opposition from Whig Party until the issues of slavery were introduced. Many then left the Whig Party which supported slavery and Whig Party gradually died down.
In 1854, The Republican Party was founded by people who supported the abolishment of slavery. This party, together with the Democratic Party became to two main parties for the two-party system which remained today.
Since the independence of Singapore in 1965, Singapore has followed a dominant-party system. The People's Action Party (PAP) was convinced that with the limited resources and talents in Singapore, it was not practical for Singapore to divide themselves up even further. Furthermore with its small geography, population and small range of policies to choose from that time, it was not reasonable for people to opt another party to fight for different rights. At the point of time when PAP was elected, almost everybody in Singapore had wanted the same thing - freedom from Malaysia.
Although Singapore followed a dominant party system, there were also other political parties around at that point of time. Workers' Party (WP), founded in 1957, was not strong in the beginning. PAP had won all of the 58 seats in the Parliament in the general elections of year 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980. It was not until 1971, the opposition forces started increasing in WP with the entrance of a lawyer, Jeyaretnam. In 1981, Jeyaretnam won a seat in the Parliament and broke PAP's 16-year of monopoly and opposition from WP continued to increase.
In 1980, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) was formed and they managed to claim a seat in the Parliament in the 1984 elections. However, unlike WP, SDP's opposition forces remained low until today.
The dominant party system in Singapore thrived for more than 40 years in Singapore and it is still prevalent today. However, as seen from the history of trends of the political party forces, Singapore is stepping towards a two-party system with increasing opposition from Workers' Party.
Comparing the current political party system of United States and Singapore, it can be said to be very different because United States follows a two-party system strongly while Singapore follows a dominant-party system.
However, taking into account Singapore's short history this was actually similar to United States' initial political party system when only Federalists existed. Singapore is also currently slowly progressing towards the two-party system with Workers' Party being able to claim increasing number of seats in the Parliament each election.
United States would most likely be continuing the two-party system for a very long time down into the future as it was already set in the American citizens' mind-set to choose either Democrats or the Republicans for about 150 years. However, United States could be said to be changing as well because the citizens are moving from choosing political parties' to the candidates whom they favour.
The political culture for the United States and Singapore are slightly different. For United States, it is considered Democratic Republican whereas for Singapore it is considered to be following Electoral Democracy.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, democracy is said to be a system of government formed by the people or members of the state through elected representatives. Republicanism on the other hand refers to a form of government whereby the leaders are elected for a certain period of time to pass policies and law which are beneficial to the society, before they leave the government permanently.
Electoral Democracy refers to the form of government where the members are elected from time to time to represent the people and support specific public policies.
The Democratic Party in the United States supports democracy and believes that every individual gets equal opportunities and have their fair share in the country. This is rather similar to Singapore's People's Action Party (PAP) where it also supports democracy and meritocracy whereby people are recognised by their efforts and achievements. Likewise, Singapore Democratic Party supports true democracy and aims to eliminate any form of authoritarianism.
The only difference is the political beliefs would be that United States follows Republicanism which is conservative while Singapore still elects the same candidates if they are able to serve the people well.
Like United States, although there were many minority parties around in Singapore, they represented very weak forces and often are unable to win any seats in the Parliament. However, they do play a part in widening people's perspective by raising new issues of which the main political parties have not look into.
Minority Parties in the United States contributes very much to the votes that each main party would receive. It is almost impossible for them to win during any elections and the votes that they gain would be critical as it would decide which main party will win when the votes are given to either one of the main parties.
However for Singapore, Minority Parties are not of much importance because of the dominant party system. No matter how much the minority party gains, none of them would be likely to take up most of the seats in the Parliament.
All political parties are similar because they exist to support causes and serve their people. They aim to fight for the most beneficial treatment for its people and also aim to improve the country through its standard of living, economy and many more. Although United States and Singapore are similar because they support the same philosophy - democracy, they are too very different because the political party systems are different and the culture that each country's citizens are used to is different. Comparison between the two countries would not be able to represent a very accurate political situation in the future because of the difference in their history.
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