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The Multiparty System: Study Questions

Suggested Review Questions and Activities

Teachers: The following are questions and activities that can be given to your students after they read the materials in each section. The questions are meant to be asked as a review exercise, although some encourage critical thinking as well. The activities can be presented as classroom exercises or as individual homework assignments. Unlike the questions, they tend to require additional research. Some call for students to create mock trials or debates that would engage the entire class. Both the questions and the activities are formatted so that they might be used directly by students, although you may rewrite them as you feel necessary.

Essential Principles

Questions

What are the alternatives to a multiparty system? Can any of these be democratic? Why is the multiparty system so essential to democracy?

Activity

A country's political parties are usually a reflection of its recent history. Choose a country and, using online sources, examine the history and platforms of the political parties represented in its parliament. What do the political parties tell an observer about the country's history and democratic development? Present your findings to the class, and compare them with other students' observations for their assigned countries.

Israel

Question

How has Israel's parliamentary system been affected by the persistent security threats it has faced since its founding in 1948?

Activity

Do some additional research to determine how Arab Israelis are represented in parliament and what their political profiles are. Then compare them to Jewish Israelis as well as to parties in neighboring Arab countries. Are there any similarities, such as ideological ones? What are the major differences? Perhaps divide the class into three groups and have them give presentations on Jewish Israeli parties, Arab Israeli parties, and parties in the neighboring countries, respectively.

Malaysia

Question

Why do ethnic parties play such an important role in Malaysia? Could non-ethnic parties succeed?

Activity

Compare the multiparty systems in Malaysia and Israel. What makes Israel's system more democratic? What conditions or influences led Malaysia to adopt a more restrictive system?

Syria

Question

Compare the Ba'athist systems in Syria under the Assads and in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. How are they similar? How are they different?

Activity

Look for news reports of dissent or opposition in Syria (in the New York Times, the Economist, and similar sources). How would you characterize this opposition (e.g., secular, religious, democratic, undemocratic)? What does it hope to achieve?