Posted by / Friday 25 November 2016 / No comments

The disadvantages of a one-party system

Definition of one-party
A one-party system refers to the political party system in which only one party has access to the political power of the state. A one-party could be de facto or de jure. If it is de facto, it means there are other political parties in existence but one particular party overshadows all the others. If it is de jure, then it means by law only one party is allowed to operate in the country.

It is undemocratic
One of the disadvantages of a one-party system is that it is undemocratic. One of the tenets of a good democratic system is to allow the electorates alternatives from which they can make informed choices. The operation of a one-party system in a state does not give room for such choices to be made.

It can degenerate into a dictatorship
Another disadvantage of a one-party system is that it has the tendency to become dictatorial. In a one-party system, no room is given for the existence of an opposition party. For that reason even if the only ruling party goes on a wrong tangent, it cannot be criticized. This can develop into a dictatorship.

Encourages subversive elements
In a de jure one-party state, for example, where no other party is allowed by law to exist, the only way opened to the citizens to take political power is to become subversive. Opposition elements are naturally driven underground and engage in clandestine activities to overthrow the ruling government.

May exclude some experienced politicians
There may be some astute politicians and very experienced administrators in the state whose contribution to the state’s development may be crucial. Such people may not want to contribute their quota to the development of the state because their ideological orientation is symmetrically opposed to that of the ruling party.   

Tends to be corrupt
In a one-party state, an official opposition is not allowed, especially in a de jure one-party system. Under such circumstance, there are no checks and balances on the powers of the government. The tendency is therefore there for the government to become corrupt and to shield corrupt government officials.

May lead to apathy
Where one party perpetuates itself in power for too long and there are no alternatives for the citizenry to choose from, people become less concerned about what goes on in the country. This is what may lead to political apathy.

1. a. What is a one-party system? [2 marks]
    b. Highlight five disadvantages of a one-party system. [10 marks]

2. Highlight six disadvantages of a one-party state.

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