Definition of party system (Two-party system)

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    A two-party system may be defined as the existence of only two major political parties in a political system. These two parties are constitutionally recognized to contest elections.

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    Britain is a good example of a two-party state. There are two major political parties labor and conservative parties. The liberal party is
a minor party. U.S.A, Canada, Australia. etc.
also practice a two-party system.

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      FEATURES OF TWO PARTY SYSTEM

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1. Two major political parties: There are only two major political parties, that are legally and constitutionally recognized. However, there may be in existence more than two political parties contesting elections.

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2. Opposition party: The opposition party is legally recognized in a two-party system.

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3. Choice: There are room and opportunity for the choice of candidates and parties.

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4. It is democratic: It accommodates democratic principles and allows the operation of the rule of law.

5. Press freedom: Two-party system allows for press freedom, no censorship.

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6. Change of government: Change of governments possible because there is the provision for periodic elections. The electorate still has the power to change governments that are not responsive and accountable.

7. Corrective party: The opposition party is seen as a corrective party in government. It watches over and criticizes some of the policies of the ruling party.

     MERITS OF TWO PARTY SYSTEM

1. Choice: Two-party system makes for choice between political parties. The party with a better program is chosen by the electorate.

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2. Provision of strong opposition: In this system, one party forms the government, the other, opposition. In Britain, for example, the Labour party is the ruling party and the conservative serves as the opposition party.

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3. It makes for good governance: The duty of the opposition party is to watch and criticize the government over bad policies. It makes the government cautious in its policy.

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4. It ensures stability: Stability is ensured formulation and implementation. and the reason is that there is no room for a coalition government which may create a weak and unstable government.

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5. It is democratic: There is the opportunity
for freedom of choice and association.

6. Easy identification: People can easily identify the strength and weaknesses of the
party in government.

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7. Change of government: Change of government is possible because the provision for periodic elections is entrenched in the Constitution.

       DEMERITS OF TWO PARTY SYSTEM

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1. Division of the country into two factions: there is the possibility of a two-party system dividing the country into two opposing factions. This can affect national unity.

2. It does not promote unity: The struggle for power within the system may not promote
national unity.

3. It may lead to a one-party state: If one of the two parties holds office for a long time, the other may dissolve into the ruling party.

4.Electoral malpractices: This is possible because each party would want to be in power, also, subsequent elections may be manipulated by the ruling party, through incumbency apparatus.

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5. Unhealthy party rivalry: Intimidations, victimization of political opponents, threats, etc, could result from a two-party system.

6. Waste of the nation’s resources: Most of the resources are wasted in conducting elections and in the maintenance of two political parties.

Also, read about the meaning of one-party system here.

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