The Multiparty System: Study Questions

 Suggested Study 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


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


A country's political parties are usually a reflection of its recent history. Examine a study of a country ranked “free” by Freedom House’s Survey of Freedom from this or another section in Democracy Web. Using online sources, find out the platforms of the major political parties represented in its parliament. What do the platforms 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.



How does Israel's parliamentary system compare to the Netherlands? What are similarities and differences in the results of these two systems with lower parliamentary thresholds? Do low thresholds benefit or impair the democratic process?


Using online news resources, find articles reporting on the 2015 elections for the Israeli Knesset and the formation of the government. How did the higher 3.5 percent threshold for parliament affect the elections. Were there substantially different results? Has there been an increase or decrease in representation of diverse interests?



Why do ethnic parties play such an important role in Malaysia?  What is the justification for ethnically based policies such as affirmative action for bumiputera (indigenous Malay)?


Examine the Country Studies and the Survey of Freedom in the World 2015 Reports for Malaysia and Botswana (Chapter 5: Accountability) and compare the two former colonial countries’ electoral systems and outcomes. In each country, the ruling coalition has won every election since independence. What are the differences between these two cases? What considerations did Freedom House make in determining Botswana as Free and Malaysia Partly Free?

Review media coverage of the 2013 Malaysia elections as well as reports of international and domestic monitors (like Bersih). Did the campaign and the results meet standards for a free and fair election? Should Malaysia’s standing be improved as a result in Freedom House’s rankings?



How was Syria’s political system adopted under the Ba’ath party similar to that in the Soviet Union. What role did the Syrian Ba’ath party play similar to the Soviet Communist Party. When Bashar al Assad succeeded his father, why did he initially adopt reform initiatives? Was there any real change?


Have students compare the descriptions of the Arab Spring protest movement in the country studies of Tunisia and Syria and use the Resource sections in each Democracy Web category as well as other online and news sources to examine the period of the protests in 2010-11. Both countries were one-party dictatorships. What has contributed to one country moving towards democracy and the other country reconsolidating one-party rule?