A democracy is a type of government in which citizens who are eligible to vote get to elect government officials and representatives. A political party is an organization that is made up of people who share many or all of the same ideologies and that attempts to gain power and influence in the government, usually by having members of the party elected into office. A one party democracy is one in which all political candidates and government officials are members of a single party. In most cases, other political parties and even opposition to the ruling party are illegal.
Nearly all democracies have at least two political parties, but there have been some one party democracies. As of 2011, the government in Syria was an example of a one party democracy. Syria's constitution, which was adopted in 1973, gave control of its government and its society to the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party.
Pros and Cons
Proponents of one party democracies say that the existence of multiple political parties in a state creates partisanship and leads to problems when elected officials from opposing parties must come together to create laws and policies. These proponents might point to the so-called gridlock that can occur when members of opposing parties cannot come to an agreement and are unable to pass a proposal because the minimum number of affirmative votes cannot be achieved. Opponents of one party democracies argue that the variety of opinions on how a government should operate is best reflected by having more than one party. They say that having multiple political parties allows for balance and a fuller representation of the people's views. Also, some critics of one party democracies point to a lack of choices for voters, because even if there are multiple candidates in an election, they are all from the same party and generally would have the same opinions and ideals.
Necessary Conditions for Success
To many political analysts, there are certain conditions that would have to exist for a one party democracy to be effective. One such condition is that the citizenry would have to be fairly unified and agree on the basic direction for the country and the role of government in the society. Another is that the ruling party must be able to sustain membership and have a relatively high tolerance for different viewpoints. The ruling party also must offer multiple candidates to the electorate for each elected office, and there would need to be continued agreement by the citizens that additional political parties were not needed. These conditions are seldom met, so an effective one party democracy is difficult to find, and many that are established eventually develop into multiple party democracies or completely dismiss the idea of having political parties at all.