Why we need more political parties

Jency Clement, Beyond Liberty Editor

Red or blue? Donkey or elephant? Democrat or Republican?

Some of these questions are easy to answer, some are more difficult. It’s easy to choose between colors, but for many of us, it gets harder to choose between political affiliations, especially if we have views that don’t completely align with either side.

The problem with only having two prominent parties is so notable that even our first president, George Washington, denounced only having two political parties, explaining that they would lead to corruption in our leaders.

Judging by the current political leadership in the United States, it’s evident that Washington knew what he was talking about. The 2016 election was often described as a choice between “the lesser of two evils.” People had to choose between two extreme viewpoints; the election forced people to vote based on their fear of the opposing candidate’s extreme qualities, rather than on true support. Having more parties, and thus more candidates, would let people vote for candidates whose views more closely align to voters’ opinions.

Multi-party systems, like the one in Finland, have ideal benefits. For instance, the Eduskunta (the Finnish Parliament) is composed of various political parties, allowing for different political viewpoints to be addressed while making decisions. If a party wins 15 percent of votes, then it receives 15 percent of seats in government. This allows for diverse representation in the government.

A system that utilizes proportional representation–like most European countries–would give voters incentive to vote for parties whose policies align more closely to their own, rather than just conforming themselves to extreme views they may not agree with. This would ensure that a variety of viewpoints and opinions could be addressed while discussing laws.

Nevertheless, there are issues associated with multi-party systems. In Israel, which has a vast array of political party representation, the Knesset (the national legislature of Israel) has one of the lowest minimum requirements to be represented (a 2 percent vote), which often results in extremist parties gaining much control in the government.

However, multi-party systems can be successful if restrictions are implemented.

For instance, proportional representation is an advantageous system, but for it to be beneficial to the population, there should be some regulations. Countries shouldn’t allow parties with only a 2 percent vote to be represented—2 percent is for milk, not political party representation.

Although there are issues in some multi-party systems, the benefits of multi-party systems outweigh the problems, especially up North, where our friendly neighbors reside. Canada has six major political parties, thereby granting voters numerous voting options. These parties are represented in their Parliament, which allows for diverse viewpoints to be present in the government, thus allowing different opinions to be considered while creating and passing legislature.

The U.S. could surely take a step in the positive direction by allocating seats in the House of Representatives for each party depending on the percentages of votes received for each party. Additionally, more media coverage on other political parties would allow people to learn more about them, thereby allowing people make an informed vote.

For presidential elections, the U.S. only lets parties with a 15 percent vote participate in presidential debates, thus meaning third-party candidates have difficulty garnering support. If third-parties didn’t need such a high amount of votes, they could gain more attention and thus more support.

We are a diverse people and we have diverse opinions; our political parties need to reflect our differing personas and beliefs as well.