Particracy is a de facto form of government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 where one or more political parties
Political Parties
Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy is a book by sociologist Robert Michels, published in 1911 , and first introducing the concept of iron law of oligarchy...

 dominate the political process, rather than citizens and/or individual politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...


Rationale and types

Particracy tends to install itself as the cost of campaigning and the impact of the media increase so that it can be prevalent at the national level with large electoral districts but absent at a local level; a few prominent politicians of renown may hold enough influence on public opinion to resist their party or dominate it.

The ultimate particracy is the single-party state
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

 while in a sense that is not a true party, for it does not perform the essential function to rival other parties. There it is often installed by law, while in multi-party states particracy cannot be imposed or effectively prevented by law.

In multi-party regimes, the degree of individual autonomy within each can vary according to the party rules and traditions, and depending on whether a party is in power, and if so alone (mostly in a de facto two party-system) or in a coalition. The mathematical need to form a coalition on the one hand prevents a single party from getting a potentially total grip, on the other hand provides the perfect excuse not to be accountable to the voter for not delivering the party program promises.


The German party systems established after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 provide examples of particracies.

More explicitly than in most European parliamentary systems, the party plays a dominant role in the German Federal Republic's politics, far outstripping the role of individuals. Article 21 of the Basic Law
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on 8 May 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies of World War II on 12 May, came into effect on 23 May, as the constitution of those states of West Germany that were initially included...

 states that "the political parties shall participate in the forming of the political will of the people. They may be freely established. Their internal organization must conform to democratic principles. They must publicly account for the sources of their funds." The 1967 "Law on Parties" further solidified the role of parties in the political process and addressed party organization, membership rights, and specific procedures, such as the nomination of candidates for office. The educational function noted in Article 21 ("forming of the political will") suggests that parties should help define public opinion rather than simply carry out the wishes of the electorate.

On the other side of the Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

, the former German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

 (or East Germany) was hardly democratic, but at least in theory more than the USSR in as far as the communist party allowed the existence of eternally minority small interest group parties.

The Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality...

 is viewed by some as being a particracy.

Particracy is one of the reasons for the 2010–2011 Greek protests
2010–2011 Greek protests
The 2010–2011 Greek protests are an ongoing series of demonstrations and general strikes taking place across Greece. The protests, which began on 5 May 2010, were sparked by plans to cut public spending and raise taxes as austerity measures in exchange for a bail-out, aimed at solving the...


The Italian 'Partitocrazia'

It has been alleged that Italian parties have retained too much power in the First Republic, screening the choices citizens had in elections; this electoral law would reinstate fixed electoral lists, where voters can express a preference for a list but not for a specific candidate. This can be used by parties to guarantee virtual re-election to unpopular but powerful figures, who would be weaker in a first-past-the-post
First-past-the-post voting refers to an election won by the candidate with the most votes. The winning potato candidate does not necessarily receive an absolute majority of all votes cast.-Overview:...

 electoral system.

The nearly pure proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 system of the First Republic had resulted not only in party fragmentation and therefore governmental instability, but also insulation of the parties from the electorate and civil society. This was known in Italian as partitocrazia, in contrast to democracy, and resulted in corruption and pork-barrel politics. The Italian constitution allows, with substantial hurdles, abrogative referendums, enabling citizens to delete laws or parts of laws past by Parliament (with exceptions).

A reform movement known as COREL (Committee to Promote Referendums on Elections), led by maverick Christian Democracy
Christian Democracy (Italy)
Christian Democracy was a Christian democratic party in Italy. It was founded in 1943 as the ideological successor of the historical Italian People's Party, which had the same symbol, a crossed shield ....

 member Mario Segni
Mario Segni
Mariotto Segni, more often known as Mario, is an Italian politician, son of Antonio Segni, one time President of the Republic of Italy....

, proposed three referendums, one of which was allowed by the Constitutional Court of Italy
Constitutional Court of Italy
The Constitutional Court of Italy is a supreme court of Italy, the other being the Court of Cassation. Sometimes the name Consulta is used as a metonym for it, because its sessions are held in Palazzo della Consulta in Rome....

 (at that time packed with members of the Italian Socialist Party
Italian Socialist Party
The Italian Socialist Party was a socialist and later social-democratic political party in Italy founded in Genoa in 1892.Once the dominant leftist party in Italy, it was eclipsed in status by the Italian Communist Party following World War II...

 and hostile to the movement). The June 1991 referendum therefore asked voters if they wanted to reduce the number of preferences
Open list
Open list describes any variant of party-list proportional representation where voters have at least some influence on the order in which a party's candidates are elected...

, from three or four to one in the Chamber of Deputies to reduce the abuse of the open-list system by party elites and ensure accurate delegation of parliamentary seats to candidates popular with voters. With 62.5% of the Italian electorate voting, the referendum passed with 95% of those voting in favor. This was seen as a vote against the partitocrazia, which had campaigned against the referendum.

Emboldened by their victory in 1991 and encouraged by the unfolding Mani pulite
Mani pulite
Mani pulite was a nationwide Italian judicial investigation into political corruption held in the 1990s. Mani pulite led to the demise of the so-called First Republic, resulting in the disappearance of many parties. Some politicians and industry leaders committed suicide after their crimes were...

 scandals and the substantial loss of votes for the traditional parties in the 1992 general elections, the reformers pushed forward with another referendum, abrogating the proportional representation system of the Italian Senate
Italian Senate
The Senate of the Republic is the upper house of the Italian Parliament. It was established in its current form on 8 May 1948, but previously existed during the Kingdom of Italy as Senato del Regno , itself a continuation of the Senato Subalpino of Sardinia-Piedmont established on 8 May 1848...

 and implicitly supporting a plurality system that would theoretically force parties to coalesce around two ideological poles, thereby providing governmental stability. This referendum was held in April 1993 and passed with the support of 80% of those voting. This caused the Giuliano Amato
Giuliano Amato
Giuliano Amato is an Italian politician. He was Prime Minister of Italy twice, first from 1992 to 1993 and then from 2000 to 2001. He was more recently Vice President of the Convention on the Future of Europe that drafted the new European Constitution and headed the Amato Group. He is commonly...

government to collapse three days later.
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