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Catch all (political party)

A Catch all political party is a party or political movement that attracts a broad support base that often defies simple categorisation. Famous examples include the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the United States, who have liberal and conservative wings and support bases, to such an extent that some supporters from each party can and on occasion do align themselves with a particular politician or group within the other. For example, Republican President of the United States Ronald Reagan gained support from conservative Democrats, who came to be called Reagan Democrats.

Other famous examples of Catch all parties include the Republic of Ireland's Fianna Fáil, which has variously been categorised as socialist (according to former deputy leader Brian Lenihan) and neo-Thatcherite/neo-Reaganite, a description applied to the economic policies and politics of current Minister for Finance Charles McCreevy. Fianna Fáil served in coalition from 1989 to 1992 with the right wing liberal Progressive Democrats, then with the socialist Irish Labour Party and is again in government with the Progressive Democrats, Fianna Fáil tailoring its policies accordingly.

India's Congress Party and Italy's now defunct Christian Democrats both attracted such a broad range of support as to make them Catch all parties.

Critics of Catch all parties accuse them of populism, adopting whatever policies they need to win, without any ideological conviction or clear definition.