Media, commerce, entertainment, and activism have gone increasingly international, but the world’s political parties still stubbornly stop at the planet’s arbitrary political borders. This makes sense; political parties are intended to compete for roles in governments, and there are no elected governments beyond the national level.
But many issues cross international boundaries, and there have been some efforts to represent this through political affiliation. The Greens have full or associate member parties in 93 nations. Many of the world’s Socialist parties work in unison through the Socialist International.
Since the world federalist movement seeks a political union of all humankind, would it make sense for a global world federalist party to be formed, with affiliates at national and sub-national levels?
The notion has some appeal. In recent years, efforts of world federalists have taken on a distinctly academic flair, with earnest activists publishing essays and books and hosting conferences, but making little headway beyond those already inclined to be sympathetic. (The key exception is the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, which has set a realistic and practical goal.)
While a “World Party” might not win elections, its candidates would get media attention and the chance to appear on stage in debate with elected officials, introducing the idea to millions of voters. It would also give world federalist sympathizers a way to get directly involved at the local or national level.
However, there are drawbacks as well. In first-past-the-post voting structures like that of the United States, alternative political parties are often seen as “spoilers” in a very divided political era. (A “World Citizens Party” existing in Massachusetts appears largely inactive.) Voters may not choose a World Party candidate even if that individual is their preferred representative, for fear of “helping” the major-party candidate they dislike the most. This could make world federalism look less popular than it may be in a given constituency.
And unlike the Greens or the Socialists, there is a question of just what a World Party would support. World federalism may be the pressing issue of our time, but it is not even close to on the radar of most voters. Those two other international parties have a set agenda for all matters of policy. It would be a mistake for a World Party to embrace one platform on issues of economics or social policy, since the goal is world union of all ideologies.
A federal world will have conservatives and libertarians as well as liberals and progressives, and there are right-leaning arguments for world federalism that are just as sound as those from the left. A platform beyond the basic call for world federalism would prove counterproductive.
While individuals supporting world federalism can and should be involved in electoral politics, and should promote the cause if seeking public office, the creation of a World Party at this time would not be in the interests of the movement.