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  • Thoughts and questions on the political process

    I'm curious about something that I have seen mentioned several times. This isn't a flame at all, I'm actually curious. Jlbetin has been described as both socialist and communist several times. Since many people use these terms in different ways, how do you describe yourself Jlbetin? We have people here from many different parts of the world and most of us are not familiar with all the differences in each specific part of the world. Here is what I'm most curious about:

    What exactly do you see as the role of government and where do you see yourself in that process?

    What are the major political parties in your country and what do they stand for? Im not talking about flaming the party you don't belong to, I'm just asking you to explain in an honest way what the basic differences are.

    This question is specificially aimed at Jlbetin and LaPalice, but but people from anywhere can take a crack at this if they like.
    Editor-in-Chief
    GameSquad.com

  • #2
    australia...

    Liberal Party: Australia's conservative party (go figure) - very close to the US, supports middle/big business, strong on defence.

    Labor Party: more socialist in outlook, very union based, close to the US, supports workers and big business, semi-strong on defence.

    Aussie politics is interesting, as both major parties stand for the same thing, have similar policies, and generally oppose each just on principle, even if they agree with the other. Parliament is generally a slanging match, with not much consensus

    It's not a surprise then, that voting is compulsory (the estimated voter turnout with out compulsory voting is about 9%), and even then, a majority just do "donkey" votes, where the voter just lists the candidates in the order they appear - hence one of the most importnat political things is to be listed at the top of the ballot paper...

    Personally, I'm a hardcore Liberal voter, but that has a lot to do with my family (Liberal voters), and going to a Labor-stronghold university (where the idiots that count as fellow students get riled up on issues they could barely spell).

    On real issues, I'm a Centric Realist, and believe in Multipolar international relations.

    Australian politics isn;t really interesting, unless you count the Opposition Leader Mark Latham, who's most famous line is to call the PM, John Howard, an "arselicker" - such quality pollies
    Now listening too;
    - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

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    • #3
      In Canada, we have 4 official federal parties. Up until the early 1990s, there have only been 3 official parties, and a couple years ago there were briefly 6 parties.

      Liberal Party: As the name implies, a party with generally centrist policies. They've been in power the most since 1867 (confederation). The 'populist' party in Canada, having a good spread of votes across the nation although dominating Ontario, the most populous province. Generally can be considered to be the centrist-left vote. Have the ability to be quite fiscally conservative, but socially usually quite liberal. Currently in government (since 1993) going into an election, likely within a year. Likely to win the next election, but IMHO loses will be sustained mostly to the left (see NDP below).

      Conservative Party: Recently formed party, when the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative (PC) parties merged, with a cry to 'unite the right', in an effort to knock the Liberal Party out of government. The Canadian Alliance was previously the far right party in Canada, based solely in western Canada. Originally formed 10-15 years ago from the more social conservative elements of the PCs. The PCs are the only other party to be in government. Support based mostly in western Canada, although historically have had a decent national spread when in government. The PCs are generally the centrist-right vote. Have the ability to be somewhat liberal fiscally, but more socially conservative. IMO, the recent merger will hamper the right vote in Canada for the next election, not help it. The Canadian Alliance dominates the new party at the top, yet there simply isn't enough support for a far right government in Canada. The new party will likely have to 'water-down' its more extreme policies, in an attempt to regain the broad right vote, essentially simply becoming the old PC party again. In the short term, IMHO the new Conservative Party will lose some ground as the moderates may be turned off if the more extremists are seen to control the party after the merger. These moderates will temporarily support the Liberal Party.

      New Democratic Party (NDP): The socialist party in Canada. There simply isn't enough far left votes in Canada to support a government, so the NDP is generally relegated to secondary status, as was the far-right Canadian Alliance. The NDP (as with the Alliance) has the potential (depending on domestic circumstances) for Official Opposition status (important status in the House of Commons). The NDP combined with the minority Liberal government in the late 60s/early 70s to form an unofficial coalition government. Confusion in the right (see above) and with new (more competent) party leadership, should make gains in the next election. My political voice is based within this group

      Bloq Québecois: The federal branch of the Quebec nationalist/seperatist party, only running candidates within Quebec. In 1993-97, achieved Official Opposition party status (ironically, the official title is: 'Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition'). After a narrow defeat in the 1995 seperation referendum (50.6% to 49.4%) BQ support has gradually eroded. Unlikely to regain this support in the foreseeable future depending on any radical domestic issues to motivate the seperatists, as they have been largely appeased. Even the provincial seperatist party has been kicked out of government.

      This is a general breakdown at the federal level. Provincially, it's quite different. There is no official connection between federal and provincial parties, so you get situations for instance where the 'Liberal Party' in British Columbia is actually a conservative party. Other parties exist only at the provincial level. Federal politics tends to be quite regional based, and people relatively tend to vote for a party rather than an individual.
      Last edited by Martin Schenkel; 16 Mar 04, 20:16.

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      • #4
        I'll take a stab at American politics.

        There are two major parties in the United States (and a few independants), which are the Democrats (liberal) and Republicans (conservative). I'll briefly attempt to describe the differences for those that aren't familiar with US politics.

        Democrats are closer to "socialists" from Europe or Canada. In general, they favor a larger government which in turn offers more services to its citizens. This, of course, translates into higher taxes to pay for the additional services. Democrats are generally viewed as a "government friendly" party and prefer a strong Federal government with weaker state governments. The party favors targeted taxes, meaning they favor shifting more of the tax burden onto high income earners. Democrats are generally more tolerant in nature, and the party is quite diverse in its makeup. Democrats derive much of their power from labor unions, minorities, and assorted special interest groups such as feminists, gay activists, and hardcore environmentalists. The party is far more tolerant on most issues than their Republican counterparts, and gets hefty support from civil rights groups, Hollywood, and ultra wealthy philanthropists. In general, Democrats favor much tougher gun control laws, support abortion rights for women, tend to be multilateralists on foreign affairs, and have a reputation as preferring a softer approach to crime than Republicans. They also generally tend to keep the military at arm's length and attempt to limit its influence. Democrats usually support the UN. The Democratic Party is strong among younger voters, gays, feminists and minority voters. The party's power is concentrated in the big cities that lie on the opposite sides of the US. Democrats cherish their image as "progressive thinkers" and champions of the poor.

        The Republican Party is closer to "nationalists" from other countries. Republicans typically favor a much smaller government which offers fewer services to it citizens. This, of course, translates into lower taxes and Republicans generally favor distributing the tax burden more evenly between people of all income brackets. Republicans favor a weak Federal government and strong state governments. Republicans tend to be much less tolerant in nature. The party's core beliefs are far more restrictive than those of the Democratic Party, and Republicans tend to be a bit less flexible with those beliefs. The party derives much of its power from big business, Christian voters, higher income earners, and rural voters. The party's power is concentrated in the vast middle of America, with rural voters heavily favoring the Republican Party. Just as Democrats pride themselves on being open minded and tolerant, Republicans pride themselves on their support for core beliefs such as religion, patriotism, and support for the military. Some of the party's beliefs include support for the rights of gun owners, restricting abortion rights, very tough policies on crime, and safeguarding America's traditions. The party has a reputation as being more oriented toward foreign policy and less concerned with domestic affairs. Republicans generally do not support the UN and cherish their image as "rugged individualists." The party is strong among older voters, the military and Caucasian voters.

        Bear in mind I painted the differences with broad strokes, but the differences I mentioned are typical of each party's platform.

        There is very little agreement between the two parties. The worldview of each is so different that it is difficult to get any bipartisan bills passed. Democrats accuse Republicans of being unilateralist cowboys who are controlled by big business special interests. Republicans in turn accuse Democrats of being spineless and closet communists. As it stands today, the two parties are very nearly diametrically opposed. They agree on almost nothing and this results in exceptionally fierce battles for control of the government. Each side views the other as a threat to America’s best interests and both parties use a scorched earth approach to blocking the other from achieving anything significant.

        The two parties did not always used to be quite as opposite as they are now. There was some degree of cooperation between the two. Both parties have evolved over the years and class and race have slowly begun to play a more significant role in which party Americans belong to. Also, at one time the Republicans controlled the north while southerners were staunch Democrats. The situation has changed dramatically over the last 100 years with Republicans now controlling the south and Democrats controlling the two costs. The north-central part of the country is a battleground and can go either way.

        The American electorate typically feels very uncomfortable with giving either side too much power. The side that controls the Executive branch (the president) is usually not the same side that controls the Legislative branch (congress). The role of the Executive branch is to conduct foreign policy, act as commander in chief of the military, and appoint federal judges. The Legislative branch passes laws, controls the budget, and acts as an oversight group.

        There are some other smaller political parties, but they tend to be much less powerful. Libratarians are basically conservatives who favor looser laws on drugs and alcohol. The Greens are typically liberals who are interested in shaking up the government.

        Both parties have roughly equivilent influence with print media, while liberals have more support from TV news and conservatives dominate radio.
        Editor-in-Chief
        GameSquad.com

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ivan Rapkinov
          It's not a surprise then, that voting is compulsory (the estimated voter turnout with out compulsory voting is about 9%), and even then, a majority just do "donkey" votes, where the voter just lists the candidates in the order they appear - hence one of the most importnat political things is to be listed at the top of the ballot paper...
          Not entirely true, I vote Liberal regardless of the candidate's name. Actually with the fine balance we often have it would have to be the political parties preferences and not the name which is important, especially with the allocation of preferences by minor parties. How-to-vote cards handed out at the polling places are very important in that they tell the average voter where those preferences should go to get the "least worst" outcome for their preferred candidate.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Prester John
            Not entirely true, I vote Liberal regardless of the candidate's name. Actually with the fine balance we often have it would have to be the political parties preferences and not the name which is important, especially with the allocation of preferences by minor parties. How-to-vote cards handed out at the polling places are very important in that they tell the average voter where those preferences should go to get the "least worst" outcome for their preferred candidate.
            true, but a sizable part of the population still tick the boxes in whatever top-down order. (15%+ or so according to research)

            Still, the Referendum at least showed the population reads the questions...
            Now listening too;
            - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Ivan Rapkinov
              true, but a sizable part of the population still tick the boxes in whatever top-down order. (15%+ or so according to research)

              Still, the Referendum at least showed the population reads the questions...
              Same sort of thing happens here in the US, every things fine when you are voting for the major offices President, Senetor, Governor etc....But then you get lower in the ballot and find candidates and referendums that you never heard of, so you just start pulling levers.

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              • #8
                dutch parlement has 150 seats, ect ect blah blah blah


                PvdA [labour]: the more moderate socialist we have here, they want to build up the welfare state even further ect ect just socialists. these would probably win the next election [2007].

                CDA: christian democrats, the current governing party, they usually stand side by side with america and i don't expect it to change soon. there current policy is called ''cut's on everything and what is investing?''. these guys are in most of the goverments we have [together with the latter one]

                LPF: right wing populist. they are living on the ideas of their assasinated leader Pim Fortuyn, used to be perfect material for papaparazi, go figure.
                their party viritually fell apart but they still hold 14seats instead of 24in may 2002.

                SP: socialist party, these guys want us out of the EU out of NATO out of the euro disband the army, make healthcare free, currently on 10seats if im correct but they usually do good in polls [a couple of months ago i heard 25!].

                Groen links: green party.

                D66: the liberal left party, they have dropped from 24 in 1994 to 6 in 2004. their program focusses alot on education. they are usually one of the most progressive parties we have.

                VVD: the right liberals. just call em softcore US democrats with a liberal touch. is in the ruling coalition [together with CDA and D66].

                SGP: cristian fundamentalists, no females allowed to be members, against working females ect, their party program is called ''the bible''. 2 seats.

                Christen unie: a bit less religious than the SGP, i bit looser. they don't take the bible litteraly.
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                alot of smaller parties didnt make it to parlement, here are the 2 biggest.

                Partij voor de Dieren: animal party, these guyys are a joke, but nearly got a seat. extreme left greens, yech.

                NCPN: communist party: hardcore communists, they go to every protest there is waving soviet flags and are calling every soviet around the world a freedom fighter. their website is full of blog. http://www.ncpn.nl/ they got like 8000 votes if im correct.
                and they compare camp xray to german concentration camps.
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                they party ive always been most attracted to is D66, so when the time comes. ill probably vote D66.
                French Soldier: You don't frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.

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                • #9
                  A question to our American friends regarding the party mascots:

                  What are the Donkey and Elephant supposed to represent, and how did they come about?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Martin Schenkel
                    A question to our American friends regarding the party mascots:

                    What are the Donkey and Elephant supposed to represent, and how did they come about?
                    For the Democratic symbol of Donkey, go to DNC website.

                    For the Republican symbol of Elephant, go to here.

                    Dan
                    Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                    "Aim small, miss small."

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                    • #11
                      Probably you know now a lot about Spanish political system, but my contribution to this thread:

                      Spanish parlament is divided in Congress and Senate, being the Congress the most important. It has 350 seats (escaños). Main political parties are:

                      PSOE: Socialist Party. More than 100 years of history. At present it is a socialist party "european style", closer to European Union than to USA in foreign affairs must not be seen as an anti-american party, focused in social politics, can be seen as a centrist-left party.

                      PP: former AP. Conservative Party, created in the 1970's as a way to join conservative tendencies. They try to be seen as a centrist-right (or even just centrist) party. Their opponents see it as the tough right possessed by Franco's ghost. Closer to USA than to EU must not be seen as an anti-european party. Liberal (european meaning, that is conservative) in economics with an influence of religion in social affairs.

                      IU. A coalition of left parties being the most important the Communist Party. They fulfill all that is supposed is required for a left party: ecologism, anti-militarism, feminism..., could even be seen as antiamerican in foreign affairs. Their number of votes seems to be lower and lower in every election, maybe because their potential voters feel more useful voting PSOE as their leaders use to say (¿?).

                      Spanish voting system penalize parties having their votes scatterd throughout the whole country. This is why nationalist or regionalist parties from different regions have a high number of seats on the Congress. Nationalist parties focus their politics in their own region. Currently, the ones in the Congress are:

                      CiU and ERC: from Catalonia
                      PNV and EA: Basque country
                      CC: Canary islands
                      BNG: Galicia
                      CHA: Aragón
                      Na-Bai: Navarra

                      You may see the number of seats, votes and percentages in

                      http://www.elmundo.es/especiales/200...reso/globales/
                      Cual lidian bien, sobre dorado arzón
                      Mio Cid Ruy Diaz, el buen lidiador;
                      Minaya Alvar Fáñez, que en Zorita mandó;
                      Martín Antolínez, el burgalés de pro...!

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                      • #12
                        I find it interesting that so far everyone besides the U.S. has more than two parties.

                        Don gave a good breakdown on the more or less idealogical differences of our two major parties. However partisianship is destroying our political process. The parties are not very different at all in the legislation they produce. We can have two for all intents and purposes identical bills in congress sponsered by the parties. Each will of course vote for their parties bill. A bill that makes great sense may die if its party cannot get enough memebers of the other party to vote for it. Un derstand these lines are not drawn along the idealogical lines that Don presented but simply which party initiated the bill.

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                        • #13
                          In Germany we have 5 major parties, 4 made it into the Bundestag.

                          CDU/CSU

                          These are actally 2 parties, the CDU is active in all federal states except Bavaria and the CSU is only active in Bavaria, but they work closely together and you can see them as one party. They are the conservatives, they want fewer taxes, fewer social welfare for the poor, more power for corporations, less power for unions and they tend to be slightly more pro-USA (although that could change once they leave the opposition and get to power again)
                          At the moment polls see them at 48%.

                          SPD

                          The socialist party of germany, currently in power in a coalition with the Green Party, their official program is pretty much the opposite of the CDU program but not that different once it comes to practical politics, current polls see them at 29%

                          The Green Party

                          A little bit more left than the SPD with a strong focus on enviromental questions. current polls see them at 10%

                          FDP

                          Our liberal party, strong focus on the economy (they once called themself the party of the wealthy), they usually coalition with the CDU, polls see them at 5%

                          PDS

                          the leftmost party in germany with chances of making it into the Bundestag, it's the follow up organization of the SED (former party of Estern Germany) but failed to get 5% of the votes at the last election and is therefore no longer present in the Bundestag.
                          Last edited by Kraut; 19 Mar 04, 08:03.
                          "The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose."

                          Henry Alfred Kissinger

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                          • #14
                            Sweden is not unlike Germany, perhaps with the difference in center of gravity, which lies to the left; many European countries except Britain have big similarities to each other.

                            Here the social democrats (labour) historically get 35-45%, and with the ex-communists, 5-10% and the greens 4-8% they mostly manage to keep power. Since the thirties they have been in power except for the war period (when all except communists were in a national government) and 1976-82 and 1991-94 if I remember correctly.

                            The conservatives gather typically 20-25% and christian democrats 5-15%, with a center and liberal party (both 5-10%) making up the "bourgeois" block.

                            Only 1991-94 was a half-seriuos attempt made to run the country breaking with welfare socialism, earlier non-socialistic governments tried desperately to prove that they were better socialdemocrats than the real ones. The attempt was obviously not appreciated by the majority of voters...

                            The social democrats have an awesome organisational capability and can rally their forces and manage to satisfy many of the interest groups...and thus they rule forever although not being a majority party...The blocks are pretty static on the whole, and I don't think it is incorrect to say we have a permanent 51-49% situation...
                            "You can't change the rules in the middle of the game."
                            "Hey, you just made that rule up."


                            Heil Dicke Bertha!

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