Monday, 16 January 2012

Political Parties and Electoral Systems

A ballot box for an election in Cambodia

A political campaign for parliamentary election in Cambodia in 1993

Democracy is generally seen through free and fair elections in a country to select parliamentarians or the President. Usually, political parties are established to participate in elections and to win seats in the lower house. Elections and political parties are common in a democratic country whether it is president or parliamentary democracy. A successful free and fair election that results in the establishment of a new government could be regarded as a success of bringing the will of a people into political actions which, in turn, serve for the common good. Furthermore, election and political parties provide opportunity to all citizens of a nation to show their voice or to stand as candidates in competition for the top jobs in government’s office. There are different electoral systems which can result in two-party system or multiparty system. For example, the United States has a two-party system consisting of Democratic Party and Republican Party while Cambodia can be a good example of multiparty system with several parties running in general elections. The importance of political parties are reflected in the election since an individual who wish to be the Prime Minister or President must join a political party or create his or her own party to run in the election. Currently, the issues of mass voting, the designing of the electoral systems, and the importance of political parties are raised by some scholars such as Gary Cox, Jonh Aldrich, and Donald Horowitz. Since Cambodia is running close to senate election on 29 January 2012, I feel the need for this article so that Cambodian people and other domestic and international stakeholders could have a good understanding of democratic election and electoral systems.