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The More Parties The Merrier

Posted on the 12 January 2013 by Fadi Bejjani @DrFadiBejjani

The More Parties The MerrierNowadays America is trending to emulate Europe so let us not just cherry pick what we emulate, let us look at the good and the bad. Europe is not just a model of socialized medicine, economies on the brink and out-of-control entitlements, it is also by and large a much better model for Democracy in my opinion.

When I was living in Paris in the 70s, I was struck by the plurality of ideologies and political parties in the country. I had just relocated from a country torn by civil war where everybody was shooting at everybody else because they did not agree with their ideas and beliefs. It was refreshing to see that people could be at opposite ends of the political spectrum, i.e. far-right and far-left, and yet have a civilized political discourse where all can make their points and speak their minds. French people can be opinionated, rebellious, strike and demonstrate in the streets. After all this is the country of Bastille Day and the French Revolution. Nevertheless at the end, they are no longer beheading anybody,  the guillotine is retired, and they seem instead to form coalitions, sometimes between strange bedfellows, and govern in quasi-peace.

I have since had in mind the vivid example of the marxist Leon Blum who was French Premier  THREE TIMES on and off before, thru and after World War II, each briefly (4 June 1936 – 22 June 1937; 13 March – 10 April 1938;  16 December 1946 – 22 January 1947). In between, the extreme right took over and he was even detained in a concentration camp for a short while. That did not prevent him from passing many legislations and being very productive. One has to admit that a country must be very resilient politically and democratically to be able to turn from far-right to far-left so frequently and on a dime, without bloody revolutions! France did it again with Mitterand (Socialist President for 14 years) followed by the Republican Chirac for 12 years; and now the Socialist Hollande following  the Republican Sarcozy. All other examples I can think of in the West show a much longer period of blue or red with a not so easy turn around: General Franco benevolent Spanish dictator for 36 years; Marshall Tito benevolent Yugoslavian Dictator 40+ years, Soviet Communism reigned for 80+ years; Nazism (far-right National Socialism go figure!) reigned for 25+ years. The last two listed were disastrous throughout. Tito's death lead to fragmentation of the old Yugoslavia.

As of the latest elections there are TWENTY THREE French political parties: center-Left (6  (including Socialist); Center-Right  (10); Left (3 including); Green (2); Center (1 Democratic); Right (2 including Fascist National Front). They all received votes and all have some representation in parliament. Although when it is time to govern they form two coalitions left and right and that determines who the country's leaning.

The American Revolution is just as mature as the French yet we only have two parties. Citizens are shoved into one or the other because they do not know where to go. There are a lot more than two American ideologies, two special interest groups, two religious groups, two ethnic groups, two racial groups or EVEN two genders, so why only two political parties. Most think it is the prohibitive cost of politics but maybe that should mature too. If people stand up and be counted, voting for ideas and beliefs instead of individuals, money will have less of a grip. Twenty-three parties for a 60,000 million population may be too much, but a half-dozen sounds about right. 

What I am really advocating is not the "FROGmentation" of American society but TRUE FREEDOM OF CHOICE which begs so following statement:

 Choice Must Be First for It to Be Free

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