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AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Partisanship is the term used to describe the support that an party gets from its supporters in opposition to the parties political opponents. It is most frequently used when referring to elected members of a party in Congress who are unlikely to compromise with the opposing party on legislation or investigations. The term in modern political history has taken on a new definition which can also refer to the psychological connection to a party that individual voters may have.

The phrase partisan is used frequently when referring to the US Congress, and its inability to conduct business. Congress is most often described as such when the parties are said to be polarized. This occurs through the widening gap between the political ideologies of the two major ideological groups in Congress. When this occurs, the term partisanship is regularly heard being slung at political opponents, especially if they are perceived to be legislating for political gain. This insult has been used recently in reference to the Benghazi Committee hearings and the attempts by House Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood as an organisation.

Partisanship can also apply to the psychological connection that a voter has to a party. This is becoming increasingly common in the US, as polls have indicated. In 1994 only 10 percent of the US population stated that they were consistently conservative or consistently liberal. This figure is now at 21%. Whilst this does leave a majority of the population out, it should be remembered that it is this 21% who are likely to be the most vocal in their views and thus the most active.

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