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Parties and Party Systems Final reflections – future directions.

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Presentation on theme: "Parties and Party Systems Final reflections – future directions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Parties and Party Systems Final reflections – future directions

2 Final exam: Saturday, December 8 th 9:00-11:00 AA1043

3 General Amnesty Blanket extension on papers Until Monday, December 3 rd 5:00 p.m.

4 Final exam template Part I. Briefly discuss the validity of three (3) of the following statements : (30%, 30 minutes) Choice = 3 out of 5 Part II. In a well-written essay, answer one (1) the following question: (30%, 40 minutes) Choice = 1 out of 2 Part III. In a well written essay, answer one (1) of the following questions: (40%, 50 minutes) Choice = 1 out of 2

5 Parties and Party Systems Final reflections – future directions

6 A decline of parties? An argument frequently made by journalists, as well as political scientists who are not parties specialists Vigorously denied by parties specialists…who have a stake in denying it

7 Supposition: Political parties are an ineluctable feature of liberal democracies: If they didn’t exist, someone would reinvent them –experience of post-communist systems Needed to –organize competition for office –organize legislatures –organize links between legislatures and the executive

8 Forms which parties take: Goodbye to the mass party and the party of mass integration Typical parties today: –Minimalist organizations –intermittent and fluctuating membership Citizens and most members are remote –Increasingly professional at the top –May or may not be programmatic, depending on context, demands of members….

9 Contemporary parties as organizations in tension Tension between –governing functions, and –representative & expressive functions Parties in government have to compromise, –In doing so, likely to disappoint followers…. Provides opportunities for –Opposition parties –New parties left, right, and centre…

10 Otto Kirchheimer’s lament: a premonition? “To the older party of integration the citizen, if he so desired, could be closer. Then it was a less differentiated organization, part channel of protest, part source of protection, part purveyor of visions of the future. Now, in its linear descendant in a transfigured world, the catch-all party, the citizen finds a relatively remote, at times quasi-official and alien structure.”

11 Kirchheimer on party functions “The political party’s role … today is more limited than it would appear from its position of formal preeminence. Via its governmental role it functions as a coordinator of and arbitrator between functional power groups. Via its electoral role it produces that limited amount of popular support and integration required from the popular masses for the functioning of official political institutions.”

12 Kirchheimer’s conclusion “No longer subject to the discipline of the party of mass integration… the voters may by their shifting moods and their apathy, transform the sensitive instrument of the catch-all party into something too blunt to serve as link with the power-holders of society.”

13 Kirchheimer’s lament, cont’d “Then we come to regret the passing – even if it was inevitable—of the class-mass party and the denominational party, as we already regret the passing of other features of yesterday’s stage of Western civilization.”

14 Analysis and comment Considerably validity to Kirchheimer’s premonition Parties, in some respects, are a pale shadow of what they once were But even if some are down, they are not out…

15 Some things to think about: Many parties spend more money than they did before Many are formidable campaign machines –U.S. parties & especially their national campaign committees –British parties…. But these refer to parties in central offices, not political parties on the ground

16 Contemporary parties Parties on the ground a shadow of what they once were Difficulty –attracting and retaining members –loyalty or affection of supporters In contrast, parties in government office continue… and

17 Contemporary parties, cont’d Parties in central office not only thrive, but grow, but… Primarily as electoral-professional organizations (Panebianco) or parties in service to candidates (American national committees and also state parties) Distant from their members (Katz and Mair, cartel hypothesis)

18 Implications for party systems Electorates far more weakly attached to parties than before, with the result that A larger proportion of the electorate available either to –Other established parties –New parties of different stripes, e.g. Left libertarian (New Left, Green Parties…) New Right Populist Parties Others as well

19 Consequences: Higher rates of electoral volatility (minimum percentage of the electorate shifting from one party to another between elections) Tendency for party spectra to become more crowded as new(er) parties squeeze in, expanding the range of alternatives available to voters

20 Is there a crisis? No, in the sense, that parties still operate and perform crucial functions in contemporary political systems Organize elections Provide candidates Organize relations between executive and legislatures

21 Crisis, cont’d Yes, in the sense that parties in older and newer democracies fail to channel or canalize popular preferences Citizens prefer alternate channels –Advocacy groups –New social movements And potentially available to ‘anti’ parties as well as anti-democratic forces

22 Bottom line: Schattschneider’s dictum: “Without parties, no democracy” E.E. Schattschneider, Party Government Valid…. or not?

23 Final exam: Saturday, December 8 th 9:00-11:00 AA1043

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