Establishing and maintaining political pluralism constitutional provisions on the freedom of creating and functioning of political parties in post-communist countries (Hungary, Poland and the Russian Federation)
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doktorant Szechenyi István University, Győr, Węgry
Publication date: 2020-01-28
Studia Politologiczne 2009;13
As an afterword, it is necessary to draw attention to other factors that can determine party-systems or are of great importance in influencing the functioning and the features of the multi-party systems. These factors are working in the framework of the democratic and plural multi-party system, however they can significantly influence the party-competition, the chances of parties, and they may result dual or multiparty-system as well. The constitutional provisions favoring political pluralism may be studied in completeness only with respect to these factors. The factors are: Electoral systems – According to Douglas W. Rae, while majoritarian systems favor government effectiveness and accountability, usually favor the first, most successful party; the proportional systems promote more diversity in social representation, and may favor – dependent on the size of electoral districts, on the used mathematical formula – the biggest, the big, the medium-size and even the smaller parties as well32. The mixed systems in the studied countries try to combine the advantages of the two basic systems. However, in the Russian political system – with the lack of the traditions of multi-party system – the electoral system was manipulated by reformers to promote specific goals, above all, to encourage the development of multi-party system. According to Rybakov, the proportional election played a positive role in the development of parties and movements as well33. Achieving this goals the Russian parliamentary law also provides further advantages for party-factions in order to discipline deputies in Duma and to ‘parliamentarianize’ embryonic parties34. Although majoritarian systems are usually connected to two-party systems, the development of the Hungarian party-system towards the very bipolar structure is obtrusive: in 2002 and in 2006 the two biggest parties gained the 90% of votes. The reasons for this can be found in the electoral behavior rather than in the normative framework. Parliamentary thresholds – Thresholds in proportional systems are used to avoid the fragmentation the party-system and the parliament. Its effects can be studied on the polish political system where the Electoral Law of 1993 introduced an electoral threshold which led to the “dramatic” reduction of the number of parties represented in the Sejm35. This system makes getting in for very new political formations quite difficult, especially when the financing of parties is based on it too, so it weakens forth the positions of the smaller parties. Sólyom argues that threshold breaches the principle of the equality, because “although the threshold expressed in percentage for getting into the parliament seems to be objective, it is not possible to justify in general that maintaining efficiency of parliament’s functioning needs gaining 4, 5 or any other percentage of votes”36. Financing of parties – The problems of financing was concerned above, now it is necessary to put some light on its enhancing effect on the previous factors. The public support of political parties is based on the principle of efficiency and on the results of the previous elections. Hereby, the differences between the bigger and smaller parties are growing higher, moreover, if the parties that are inside the parliament enjoy extensive – and maybe unconstitutional – advantages, like in Hungary, this makes the ascent of the smaller ones almost impossible. In order to confirm this statement, we shall have a look at the outcomes of the Hungarian elections of 2006: the 4 parties that were already in the parliament in the previous period, gaining the 97% of the votes, let only one party to cross the 1% threshold of financing, and a new actor could get into House of Nation only by the electoral cooperation of Fidesz and Christian-democrats.