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A dominant-party system, or one-party dominant system is a political system in which opposition groups or parties are permitted, but a single party dominates election results. Any ruling party staying in power for more than one consecutive term may be considered a dominant (also referred to as predominant or hegemonic) party.
Between 1950 and 2017, more than 130 countries were included in the list of dominant-party systems, i.e., almost every state in the world on national, sub-national and district levels, both democratic and authoritarian.
Critics of the "dominant party" theory argue that it views the meaning of democracy as given, and that it assumes that only a particular conception of representative democracy (in which different parties alternate frequently in power) is valid.Raymond Suttner, himself a former leader of the African National Congress (ANC), argues that "the dominant party 'system' is deeply flawed as a mode of analysis and lacks explanatory capacity. But it is also a very conservative approach to politics. Its fundamental political assumptions are restricted to one form of democracy, electoral politics and hostile to popular politics. This is manifest in the obsession with the quality of electoral opposition and its sidelining or ignoring of popular political activity organised in other ways. The assumption in this approach is that other forms of organisation and opposition are of limited importance or a separate matter from the consolidation of their version of democracy."
One of the dangers of dominant parties is "the tendency of dominant parties to conflate party and state and to appoint party officials to senior positions irrespective of their having the required qualities." However, in some countries this is common practice even when there is no dominant party. In contrast to one-party systems, dominant-party systems can occur within a context of a democratic system. In a one-party system other parties are banned, but in dominant-party systems other political parties are tolerated, and (in democratic dominant-party systems) operate without overt legal impediment, but do not have a realistic chance of winning; the dominant party genuinely wins the votes of the vast majority of voters every time (or, in authoritarian systems, claims to). Under authoritarian dominant-party systems, which may be referred to as "electoralism" or "soft authoritarianism", opposition parties are legally allowed to operate, but are too weak or ineffective to seriously challenge power, perhaps through various forms of corruption, constitutional quirks that intentionally undermine the ability for an effective opposition to thrive, institutional and/or organizational conventions that support the status quo, occasional but not omnipresent political repression, or inherent cultural values averse to change.
In some states opposition parties are subject to varying degrees of official harassment and most often deal with restrictions on free speech (such as press laws), lawsuits against the opposition, and rules or electoral systems (such as gerrymandering of electoral districts) designed to put them at a disadvantage. In some cases outright electoral fraud keeps the opposition from power. On the other hand, some dominant-party systems occur, at least temporarily, in countries that are widely seen, both by their citizens and outside observers, to be textbook examples of democracy. An example of a genuine democratic dominant-party system would be the pre-Emergency India, which was almost universally viewed by all as being a democratic state, even though the only major national party at that time was the Indian National Congress. The reasons why a dominant-party system may form in such a country are often debated: supporters of the dominant party tend to argue that their party is simply doing a good job in government and the opposition continuously proposes unrealistic or unpopular changes, while supporters of the opposition tend to argue that the electoral system disfavors them (for example because it is based on the principle of first past the post), or that the dominant party receives a disproportionate amount of funding from various sources and is therefore able to mount more persuasive campaigns. In states with ethnic issues, one party may be seen as being the party for an ethnicity or race with the party for the majority ethnic, racial or religious group dominating, e.g., the African National Congress in South Africa (governing since 1994) has strong support amongst Black South Africans and the Ulster Unionist Party governed Northern Ireland from its creation in 1921 until 1972 with the support of the Protestant majority.
Sub-national entities are often dominated by one party due to the area's demographic being on one end of the spectrum. For example, the current elected government of the District of Columbia has been governed by Democrats since its creation in the 1970s, Bavaria by the Christian Social Union since 1957, Madeira by the Social Democrats since 1976, and Alberta by Progressive Conservatives from 1971 to 2015. On the other hand, where the dominant party rules nationally on a genuinely democratic basis, the opposition may be strong in one or more subnational areas, possibly even constituting a dominant party locally; an example is South Africa, where although the African National Congress is dominant at the national level, the opposition Democratic Alliance is strong to dominant in the Province of Western Cape.
Current dominant-party systems
This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(July 2010)
Presidential election, 1992: dos Santos (MPLA-PT) won 49.6% of the vote. As this was not an absolute majority, a runoff against Jonas Savimbi (40.1%) was required, but did not take place. Dos Santos remained in office without democratic legitimacy.
New constitution, 2010: popular election of president abolished in favour of a rule that the top candidate of the most voted party in parliamentary elections becomes president.
With the emergence and strengthening of regional, and other non-traditional parties such as the Bloc Québécois following the Meech Lake Accord and the New Democratic Party, which have both served as the Official Opposition, both the Liberal and Conservative Party have relied on unofficial support from these smaller parties when in Minority Governments.
The Liberal Party of Canada has nonetheless been dominant in federal politics of Canada since its founding. So much so, that critics and acacemics alike have sometimes described the Liberal Party as "Canada's natural governing party".
The party ruled between 1935 and 1984 (the only exceptions being in 1957-1963 and 1979-1980), as well as 1896-1911, 1921-1930 (except a few months), and 1993-2006. In late 2006, the newly formed Conservative Party of Canada were elected, governing until 2015.
After a nearly a decade in opposition, the Liberals returned to power following the 2015 election and were subsequently re-elected in the 2019 election. 
Saskatchewan has seen the Saskatchewan Party win three consecutive elections in 2007, 2011, and 2016; with a majority government secured for the party in the three elections. The Saskatchewan Party won 51 of the 61 seats in the 2016 election
As a whole, the nation has a two-party system, with the main parties since the mid-19th century being Democratic Party and the Republican Party. However, some states and cities have been dominated by one of these parties for up to several decades. Generally, the Democratic Party dominate in the urban metropolitan areas, while the Republican Party dominate in the rural areas. Following the 2018 elections, the Republican Party continued to hold a majority of State Legislatures and a majority of Governorships. However the Democratic Party won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, while the Republican Party increased their majority in the Senate, resulting in a split Congress. As a consequence of Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 elections, the Republican Party also controls the Presidency.
Dominated by the Democratic Party:
California had Republican governors as late as 2011 (except 1975-1983 and 1999-2003) but has voted for Democrats in national races and has a legislature dominated by the Democrats since the 1990s. Due to the top two primary election, many statewide and local races are contested by two members of the Democratic Party in the general election. State Legislatures are controlled by the Democrats since 1970 (except 1994-1996).
Illinois has been governed under a Democratic super-majority in both houses of the legislature and the governorship since the 2018 elections. Chicago, has been historically dominated by the Cook County Democratic Party - the office of mayor has been filled by a Democrat continuously since 1931.
Oregon, while once a heavily Republican state, has had only one Republican governor since 1975, has voted Democrat in every Presidential election since 1988, and had no Republican statewide elected officials from 2002 until the election of Dennis Richardson as Oregon Secretary of State in 2016.
Idaho has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, with no Democratic governors since 1994 and only two years in which the State Senate was tied evenly since 1960.
Kansas has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, with only four years of Democratic majorities in the State House of Representatives since 1915 and only Republican majorities in the same period. Since 1967, however, five of the last nine governors have been Democrats, although one of these Democrats only held office for two years.
Louisiana is dominated by the Republicans. New Orleans, however, has been dominated by the Democratic Party since the 19th century.
Nebraska has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, with a non-partisan legislature (where a de facto Republican majority has held since records began in 2007), mostly Republican governors and elected cabinet officials and only one Republican who changed party to Democrat in 2006 holding state-level partisan office since 1999.
South Dakota has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, aside from a few Democratic and Populist governments and coalitions with Republicans, with only three elected high officials and two years of State Senate dominance since 1979.
Wyoming has been dominated by Republicans for most of its existence, with only four years where a house of the legislature has been Democratic since 1939, and mostly Republican governors during that period.
Dominant-party systems can also exist on native reservations with republican forms of government. The Seneca Nation of Indians, a tribe with territory within the bounds of New York State, has had the Seneca Party as the dominant party in its political system for several decades.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU): In power since the establishment of the state in 1990. CDU ruled with an absolute majority until 2004, and even a two-thirds supermajority in the Landtag from 1994 to 2004. Its popularity peaked at 56,9% in the 1999 election. In the 2010s, CDU's dominance eroded significantly. In the 2017 German federal election, Saxony's CDU came in second place for the first time in the history of the state, reaching 26.9%, behind the far-right Alternative für Deutschland. Due to the irreconcilability of left-wing and right-wing opposition parties, it is still considered impossible to form a state government led by another party than CDU.
Nova Scotia: The Nova Scotia Liberal Party, in the Province of Nova Scotia, held office in an unbroken period from 1882 to 1925. During the period from 1867 to 1956, the party was in power for 76 of 89 years, most of that time with fewer than 5 opposition members.
Ontario: Ontario's party system was once a dominant party system, with the Liberal Party of Ontario being the only political party to form government from 1871 to 1905; and having won the majority of the seats available in all twelve elections from 1871 to 1902. The turn of the 20th century saw a shift in party dominance from the Liberal Party of Ontario to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario,[note 4] with the latter winning 22 of the 28 elections held in the 20th century. From 1943 to 1985, the Progressive Conservatives won 13 consecutive elections, forming the provincial government for 42 years. From 1945 to 1985, the party governed an uninterrupted majority government, with the party's dominance in that era referred to as the "Big Blue Machine". Although the Progressive Conservatives won the most seats in the 1985 election, the party was unable to form government for the first time in 42 years, with the Liberal Party forming a minority government with a confidence and supply arrangement with the New Democratic Party.
Quebec: The Union Nationale, in the Province of Quebec, held office uninterrupted from 1944 until 1960 with Quiet revolution. And nearly with the Quebec Liberal Party throughout province's political history with start from 1897 to 1935, then a second time in 1985 and 1989, and lastly third time in 2003 and 2008 periods.
The South (usually defined as coextensive with the former Confederacy) was known until the era of the 1990s as the "Solid South" due to its states' reliable support the Democratic Party, which at that time had a strong liberal wing. Several states had an unbroken succession of Democratic governors for half a century to over a century.
Nicaragua: The Partido Liberal Nacionalista of the Somoza family held effective control from the 1930s to 1979. It was never the sole legal party, but elections were often fraught with accusations of fraud and improbable results. Later the conservative government held effective control from 1990 to 2007.
Baden-Württemberg: The Christian Democratic Union of Germany ruled from 1953 to 2011 and was biggest party until 2016 (except in Württemberg-Baden for 1950-1952), but is still biggest party at German federal elections and European Parliament elections. And in the predecessor state of Baden the Centre Party was the biggest party during the Weimar republic until 1930.
Bayern: The Christian Social Union in Bavaria held majority in the Landtag of Bavaria from 1966 to 2008 with the best vote share in 2003 (60.6% and 124 of 180 seats). The party lost its majority in the 2008 elections and governed in a coalition alongside the FDP before regaining its majority in 2013. However, this majority was once again lost in the 2018 state election. CSU is additional biggest party since 1946 (with one exception in 1950 by the similar Bavaria Party).
Saar(not part of Germany at this time): The Centre Party won every Landesrat election from 1922 to 1935.
Saarland: The Christian Democratic Union of Germany ruled from the return of the Saar to (West) Germany in 1959 to 1980. In Landtag elections, the CDU reached between 36.6% in 1955 and 49.1% in 1975, the CDU also dominated federal elections (except for 1972) and in the European election 1979 the CDU/CSU won 46.4%.
Luxembourg: The Christian Social People's Party (CSV), with its predecessor Party of the Right, governed Luxembourg continuously since 1915 until 2013, except for 1974-1979. However, Luxembourg has a coalition system, and the CSV has been in coalition with at least one of the two next two leading parties for all but four years. It has always won a plurality of seats in parliamentary elections, although it lost the popular vote in 1964 and 1974.
Portugal: The Portuguese Republican Party, during most of the Portuguese First Republic's existence (1910-1926): After the coup that put an end to Portugal's constitutional monarchy in 1910, the electoral system, which had always ensured victory to the party in government, was left unchanged. Before 1910, it had been the reigning monarch's responsibility to ensure that no one party remain too long in government, usually by disbanding Parliament and calling for new elections. The republic's constitution added no such proviso, and the Portuguese Republican Party was able to keep the other minor republican parties (monarchic parties had been declared illegal) from winning elections. On the rare occasions when it was ousted from power, it was overthrown by force and was again by the means of a counter-coup that it returned to power, until its final fall, with the republic itself, in 1926.
Sweden: The Swedish Social Democratic Party in Sweden from 1932 to 2006 except only for some months in 1936 (1936-1939 and 1951-1957 in coalition with the Farmers' League, 1939-1945 at the head of a government of national unity), 1976-1982 and 1991-1994. The party is still the largest party in Sweden and has been so in every general election since 1917 (hence the largest party even before the universal suffrage was introduced in 1921). The former Prime minister and party leader Tage Erlander led the Swedish government for an uninterrupted tenure of 23 years (1946-1969), the longest in any democracy so far. Since 2006 the party support has declined, but in 2014 it returned to government but its led centre-left coalition without majority.
Indonesia: The Golkar (acronym of Golongan Karya or Functional Groups) organization from 1971 to 1999.
Israel: Mapai in Israel was the dominant party from the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 (and before 1944 they won the Assembly of Representatives since 1925) until merging into present-day Israeli Labor Party in 1968. The Labor Party started losing influence in the 1970s, particularly following the Yom Kippur War, and eventually lost power in the 1977 election. The Labor Party continued to participate in several coalition governments until 2009.
Australia: The Liberal Party (generally in coalition with the National Party) held power federally from 1949 to 1972 and from 1975 to 1983 (31 out of 34 years). By the scheduled expiry of the 46th Parliament in 2022, the Liberal-National Coalition will have held power for 20 out of the 26 years between 1996 and 2022.
^Grétar Thor Eythórsson, Detlef Jahn (2009), "Das politische System Islands", Die Politischen Systeme Westeuropas (in German) (4., aktualisierte und überarbeitete ed.), Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, p. 200, ISBN978-3-531-16464-9
^ abBihari, Mihály (2013). "A magyarországi domináns pártrendszer". Politológia: a politika és a modern állam: pártok és ideológiák (in Hungarian). Budapest: Nemzedékek Tudása Tankönyvkiadó. pp. 291-295. ISBN9789631976281.