Big tent or catch-all party is used in reference to a political party's policy of permitting or encouraging a broad spectrum of views among its members. This is in contrast to other parties that defend a determined ideology and seek voters who adhere to that ideology and convince people towards it.
ArmeniaFollowing the 2018 Armenian parliamentary election, the My Step Alliance rose to power on an anti-corruption and pro-democracy platform. The alliance has been described as maintaining a big tent ideology, as the alliance does not support any one particular political position. Instead, it focuses on strengthening Armenia's civil society and economic development.
AustraliaThe Liberal Party of Australia and its predecessors originated as an alliance of liberals and conservatives in opposition to the Australian Labor Party, beginning with the Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1909. This ideological distinction has endured to the present day, with the modern Liberal Party frequently described as a "broad church", a term popularised by former leader and Prime Minister John Howard. In this context, "broad church" is largely synonymous with "big tent". In the 21st century, the party is often characterised as having a "small-l liberal" wing and a conservative wing, which frequently come into conflict with each other. The party has historically been found strong support primarily from the middle-class, though has in recent decades appealed to socially conservative working-class voters.
ArgentinaFrom its foundation the Justicialist Party has been a Peronist catch-all party, which focuses on the figure of Juan Perón and his wife Eva.
Juntos por el Cambio is an Argentine big tent political coalition. It was created in 2015 as Cambiemos. It is composed of Republican Proposal, Civic Coalition ARI and Radical Civic Union.
BrazilThe Brazilian Democratic Movement is a centrist and big tent party.
CanadaAt the federal level, Canada has been dominated by two big tent parties practicing "brokerage politics". Both the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada rely on attracting supports from a broad spectrum of voters. Far-right and far-left politics have never been a prominent force in Canadian society.
FinlandThe centre-right National Coalition Party has been described as catch-all party supporting the interests of the urban middle classes.
FranceThe La République En Marche! party founded by President Emmanuel Macron has been described as a centrist party with a catch-all nature.
GermanyBoth the Christian Democratic Union of Germany/Christian Social Union in Bavaria and the Social Democratic Party of Germany are considered big tent or catch-all parties, known in German as Volksparteien.
IndiaThe Indian National Congress attracted support from Indians of all classes, castes and religions opposed to the British Empire.
The Janata Party which came into power in India in 1977, was a catch-all party which consisted of people with different ideologies opposed to The Emergency.
Irelandand Fianna Fáil are considered catch-all parties, both being supported by people from different social classes and political ideologies. Both parties are however usually described as being very similar, and are positioned on the centre-right with a liberal conservative ideology. The reason they remain separate is due mainly to historical factors, with those who supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty in the 1920s eventually becoming Fine Gael, and those opposed would join Fianna Fáil and seek an independent Ireland.
ItalyIn Italy, the Five Star Movement led by comedian and actor Beppe Grillo has been described as a catch-all, protest party and "post-ideological big tent" because its supporters do not share similar policy preferences, are split on major economic and social issues and are united largely based on "anti-establishment" sentiments. The Five Star Movement's "successful campaign formula combined anti-establishment sentiments with an economic and political protest which extends beyond the boundaries of traditional political orientations", yet its "'catch-all' formula" has limited its ability to become "a mature, functional, effective and coherent contender for government". The Northern League attracted voters in its early years from all the political spectrum. Forza Italia on the centre-right and the Democratic Party on the centre-left are considered catch-all parties, both having been formed from mergers of political parties with numerous ideological backgrounds.
MexicoThe Institutional Revolutionary Party which held power in Mexico for 71 uninterrupted years from 1929 to 2000 was founded following the Mexican Revolution. Mexican president Plutarco Elías Calles founded the PRI, then known as the National Revolutionary Party, in 1929 with the intent of providing a political space in which all the surviving leaders and combatants of the Mexican Revolution could participate, and to solve the grave political crisis caused by the assassination of president-elect Álvaro Obregón in 1928. Throughout its nine-decade existence, the PRI has adopted a very wide array of ideologies. It nationalized the petroleum industry in the 1940s and the banking industry in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the party went through reforms that shaped its current incarnation, with policies characterized as centre-right, such as the privatization of State-run companies, closer relations with the Catholic church, and embracing free-market capitalism and neoliberal policies.
The National Regeneration Movement, founded by the current president of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has often been described as a big tent party due to its various constituents that joined its ranks during the 2018 general elections.
PortugalThe centre-left Socialist Party and centre-right Social Democratic Party have been described as catch-all parties.
RomaniaThe centre-right Save Romania Union is considered big tent or catch-all parties.
Spainhas been considered as an example of astroturfing in the Spanish media since 2015. Originally founded as a social democratic regional party opposed to Catalan nationalism, it switched to a catch-all message in order to attract votes from the right to the moderate left in its appearance in the national political landscape. Its stance includes a mix of liberalism and pro-Europeanism, but the party has also embraced populist views on the legitimacy of its political opponents, conservative views on topics such as the criminal system and personal property and Spanish nationalist positions without many problems by its own leader, Albert Rivera, becoming one of the most recognisable "catch-all" parties in the history of the country. In the mid 2010s, however, the party's main ideology is perceived to have drifted towards the right, with Albert Rivera admitting that they would not agree to form a coalition with the two main centre-left and left parties after the 2019 Spanish general elections, regardless of the results. In addition to this, some commentators argue that after the 2019 Spanish general election, Ciudadanos has attempted to become the hegemonic party of the right in the place of the People's Party, which suffered from massive loses in vote percentage and seats in the Congress of Deputies, thus contributing to its shift to the right.
Similarly, in the regional parliaments CS has allied with both the People's Party and also with the extreme right-wing party Vox to achieve coalitions. Thus giving rise to the expression "the three rights" while defining their opposition as "the left".
South AfricaThe African National Congress has been the governing party of South Africa since the country's first democratic election in 1994 and has been described by the media as a "big tent" party. An important aspect of its electoral success has been its ability to include a diverse range of political groups most notably in the form of the Tripartite Alliance between the ANC, the South African Communist Party, and the country's largest trade union COSATU. Additional interest groups included in the party include members of the business community and traditional leaders.
United KingdomWhen Gordon Brown became British Prime Minister in 2007, he invited several members from outside the Labour Party into his government. These included former CBI Director-General Digby Jones who became a Minister of State and former Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown who was offered the position of Northern Ireland Secretary. The media often referred to Brown's ministry as "a government of all the talents" or simply "Brown's big tent".
The Brexit Party, founded by Nigel Farage, may be considered a single-issue big tent party as it ran star candidates in the 2019 European Parliament election from across the political spectrum, including former Conservative Member of Parliament Ann Widdecombe and former Revolutionary Communist Claire Fox. Both Widdecombe and Fox were elected.
In Scotland, the Scottish National Party is possibly the longest established big tent party in the UK, with the goal of seeking Scottish independence by those that support various other political ideologies and from various political positions. Since 2007, the SNP have been the largest single party in the Scottish Parliament and has formed the Scottish Government three times.
United StatesThe Democratic Party during the New Deal coalition, formed in support of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies from 1930s until 1960s, was a "big-tent" party. This coalition brought together labor unions, working-class voters, farm organizations, liberals, Southern Democrats, African Americans, urban voters and immigrants.
The Blue Dog Coalition is a big-tent caucus of centrist and conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives, some being socially conservative and fiscally and economically progressive or vice versa. For a brief period following the 2006 and 2008 elections, when Democrats held a majority in the House, this caucus wielded increased influence over the party, but its power declined again after a large majority of its members were defeated or retired in the 2010 election. Its Republican counterpart is the Republican Main Street Partnership.
In counter to the New Deal coalition, the Republican Party was for much of its history a "big tent" party that encompassed a wide range of right-wing and center-right causes, including a wide range of politicians who were fiscally conservative and socially moderate or liberal and vice versa. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Republican party attracted support from wealthy suburban voters in the South and Midwest, Northeastern moderates, Western libertarians, and rural conservatives across the country. From 1968 to 1988, Republicans won five out of six presidential elections, with the only exception being a narrow loss to Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976. The culture wars of the 1990s and the growing influence of the Christian right within the party prompted the socially moderate and liberal sections of the Republican base, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest, to begin slowly leaving the party in favor of moderate Democrats or independents. As a result, Republicans have lost the national popular vote in six out of seven presidential elections since 1992, while winning narrow Electoral College victories three times. However, moderate Republicans continued to thrive at the state level until the dawn of the 21st century.
Following the 1974 Dallas Accord, the Libertarian Party embraced the big tent idea to the extent it ensured that the anarcho-capitalist views would not be excluded from the majority minarchist party.
- ANO 2011, Czech Republic
- Austrian People's Party
- Brazilian Democratic Movement, Brazil
- Christian Democracy, Italy
- Christian Democratic Union of Germany
- Civic Platform, Poland
- Fianna Fáil, Republic of Ireland
- Five Star Movement, Italy
- Georgian Dream
- Indian National Congress
- Institutional Revolutionary Party, Mexico
- Islamic Iran Participation Front
- Joint List, Israel
- La République En Marche!, France
- Liberal Democratic Party, Japan
- National Coalition Party, Finland
- National Regeneration Movement, Mexico
- People's Front for Democracy and Justice, Eritrea
- Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
- Scottish National Party, Scotland
- Social Democratic Party, Portugal
- Social Democratic Party of Germany
- Socialist Party, Portugal
- South Tyrolean People's Party
- United Russia, Russia
- Together for Yes, Ireland
- Together for Yes, Spain
- Republican Party of Armenia, Armenia
- Serbian Progressive Party