What do the Lib Dems stand for

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The Americans have decided: for Trump, against Clinton. And: for Republicans, against Democrats. What do these parties stand for? And why do Republicans and Democrats both work completely differently than, say, German parties?

By: Silke Schmidt-Thrö (video), Sylvaine von Liebe (text)

Status: 09/11/2016

A Republican President or a Democrat? So far, that has almost always been the question for US voters. At least for over 160 years. Only the nationalist Whig Party made an exception in the mid-19th century. At the time, it provided four of the 44 US presidents to date and soon disappeared from the party landscape.

Since then, the two big parties have determined US politics - among other things, an effect of US majority voting. However, US parties are not exactly what Germans, for example, think of as "party". A brief overview:

Party book - no thanks! In the United States, political parties have very few paying members and are funded primarily through donations. Most of the supporters are “registered members” who have registered with the party directly, which is necessary for every US election, but do not pay any contributions. Voluntary active supporters, the so-called volunteers, are particularly important. They do the lion's share of the party work.

The two big parties see themselves as "big tent". With their programs, they want to address as many sections of the population as possible. And: Because there are only two promising parties, protest from the population is rarely expressed in the rise of certain parties. Instead, more radical candidates prevail within the party, such as Donald Trump. After all, voters who do not even have to commit to the party can have a say in the election.

Democrats are more on the left, Republicans more on the right. However, that was not always the case - as the development of the two parties shows.

There are still many other parties in the US - the libertarians, communists, socialists and a party for alcohol bans. In elections, however, their supporters usually support the two major parties.

*The numbers are from Pew Research Centerwho conducted numerous surveys of the entire US population from 1992 to 2014. The renowned research institution offers extensive, well-prepared information on US politics in English.