bloc, parliamentary [Fr., = block], group of legislators formed to support special interests. A bloc may form because of a specific issue and dissolve when that issue has been resolved, or it may have a more permanent character, based on a more general interest. It is usually more tightly knit and aggressive than a coalition. The bloc has been a common device in legislatures made up of many parties, where it has tended to create two loose groups of "left" and "right." In nominally bipartisan legislatures, such as those of the United States, blocs are smaller groups and are usually organized to promote a specific economic or social interest or policy as, for example, the farm bloc. The late 20th cent. saw the development of bloc voting by groups of states in the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.