Timberwoof Essays Paty Gap
Political Party Deficit

Growing up in the United States I learned the importance of the two-party system in providing an alternative to the single political party of the Communist regimes. I had heard that Germany had a few more political parties and suggested to someone once that the Republican and Democratic Parties should each split up into two, to better represent their separate constituencies. The person I spoke with looked at me in horror and objected, "But that would destroy the two-party system!"

I searched the Web and gathered information about the representative democracies of nine countries of Europe, North America, and Japan. For each country I tabulated the number of inhabitants, number of representatives to the upper and lower houses of parliament[1], and the number of political parties. Here's a chart of what I found.

Country Population Repre- sentatives in Upper House Repre- sentatives in Lower House Repre- sentatives Combined Constituents per Repre- sentative in Upper Hosue Constituents per Repre- sentative in Lower Hosue Constituents Per Repre- sentative Major Political Parties 10,000 Constituents per Political Party
USA 284,400,000 100 435 535 2,844,000 654,000 53,160,000 2 14220
Japan 126,800,000 247 480 727 513,000 264,000 17,440,000 7 1811
Germany 82,100,000 69 662 662 1,190,000 124,000 12,300,000 5 1642
Britain 59,800,000 1326 659 [2] 659 45,098 91,000 9,070,000 5 1196
Australia 19,400,000 76 150 226 255,000 129,000 8,580,000 4 485
Canada 31,100,000 112 301 413 278,000 103,000 7,530,000 5 622
France 59,700,000 321 577 898 186,000 103,000 6,650,000 8 746
Italy 57,900,000 315 630 945 184,000 92,000 6,130,000 4 1448
Ireland 3,800,000 60 166 226 63,000 23,000 1,680,000 6 63

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I made a bar graph.

It may be argued that since the American Senate and House of Representatives are the legislative bodies of the Federal Government, I should count the number of representatives in each state's houses of parliament. But the number of political parties would still be only two.

The other countries in this study have approximately ten to twenty million constituents per political party. The United States has a 140 million constituents per party. (I am not counting the minor parties because at the scale of the Democratic and Republican parties, they are insignificant.)

How can a country as large and diverse as the United States be served adequately by only two political parties? I believe that it can't, and thus I am in favor of destroying the two-party system.

[1] What in the United States are called the Senate and the House of Representatives server the same purpose as what in other countries are called Parliament. Surprisingly, Americans sometimes object when the legislative branch of government is called a Parliament, even though that is what it is.

[2] Since the members of the House of Lords are not elected, they do not directly represent their constituents. If they were counted, this number would be 3,010,000. The members of the Bundesrat, the upper house of Germany's parliamnet, are appointed by the regional governments. But since these governments are elected by the peope, the Bundesrat counts as an elected body.


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