Archer, Robin. 2007. Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States? Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Bendix, John, Bertell Oilman, Bartholomew H. Sparrow and Timothy P Mitchell (1992) ‘Going beyond the State?) American Political Science Review. 86: 1008-21.
This article challenges the assertions made concerning the nature and definition of a state made by Mitchell in his work ‘The Limits of the State’ in 1991. They ask fundamental questions about the nature of a state such as how its power is derived and how and why the state uses this power. One question that must be asked is the state like other associations in that it exists in order to serve as the governing body of its membership, or is the state different since membership in the state is not voluntary and the state is not checked by any other organization. Additionally, the state reserves the sole power to legitimize other organizations. Another question that needs to be addressed is what is the motivation that the state uses to access how to use their power. Does the state serve the purposes of its constituent groups, or does it serve as the protector of its members or is the state passive and controlled by its members.
The Limits of the State: Beyond Statistic Approaches and Their Critics
Timothy Mitchell The American Political Science Review, Vol. 85, No. 1. (Mar., 1991), pp. 77-96.
This piece deals with the nature of the state and how it has never clearly been defined. Is the state defined solely on the organizational structures and formal government or is there a greater social aspect that helps to define the state. Is the populace attached to the formal aspects of the state such as the land and the institutions or is there a greater civic loyalty to other sources such as political parties, other organizations, and cultural attachments?
Straddling the East-West Divide: Party Organization and Communist Legacies in East Central Europe
James Toole Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 55, No. 1. (Jan., 2003), pp. 101-118.
This reading examines the evolution of political parties in three post communist Eastern Block Countries Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. It examines how parties developed in these countries to be very similar to the political parties of Western Europe in their belief in the Democratic Rule and even on issue stances and platform agendas. But there are differences in the organizational structure of the parties of these countries. Toole determined that the parties of these Eastern European Countries are driven by the elites and party leaders. Toole stipulates that these Eastern European Countries choose this elite driven model for their political parties partly as a hang over effect of the nation’s previous traditions in the communist system. Under the communist system, the party leaders held great control over the direction of the party and in fact the direction of the government and the nation.
A Comparison of the American and British Party Systems
James K. Pollock, Jr. Journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Vol. 9, No. 2. (Mar., 1930), pp. 207-221.
This reading, although a bit antiquated being written in 1930, is a great piece which discusses the strengths and weakness of the political party organizations found in the United States and the United Kingdom. The author Pollock goes into great detail on the organizational structures of the political parties of the two nations. He does a great job explaining how the environment in which the parties operates dictates how the party will organize. Pollock then discusses that the parties choose to operate in a manner that is best suited to meet the restrictions placed on them by the laws and culture of the nation in which they are operating. He shows this by examining the constitutional factors that affect the development of parties and helps to shape their membership. As well the laws and election styles of the respective country will decide the organizational style the parties take. These laws and the traditions of the nation also affect how the parties will nominate the candidates and how the role they take in the society which they reside in.
The Impacts of Party Membership Size: A Cross-National Analysis
Alexander C. Tan The Journal of Politics, Vol. 60, No. 1. (Feb., 1998), pp. 188-198.
This work examines the relationship of the size of the membership of a political party and its relative effect on the organizational structure of the party. The work examines how participation is affected by the size of the party’s membership as well as how the organizational complexity is affected. Additionally, the piece examines how the centralization of power is affected by an increase in the size of the membership of the political party. As a party increases in size it becomes more difficult to have a method of democratic control of the party, therefore the party is required to find some form of representative control for its members. Additionally, as a party increases in size there is a great deal more administrative and executive needs that must be met. The parties are then forced to deal with this by adding layers of complexity to handle these new demands. In addition to the demands increase there is also an increase in the need for centralization for the party. The party must become more responsive and focused to be able to better handle and meet the demands of a larger membership, the intuitive and easiest way to address these demands is to centralize power inside the power. By resting more administration power to a few top leaders of the party it makes it far easier for the party to be responsive to the demands and issues that a larger party would face than it would be feasible for a more representative method of party leadership.
Political Institutionalization and Party Development in Post-Communist Poland
Paul G. Lewis Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 46, No. 5. (1994), pp. 779-799.
The article address the development of political institutions in Poland after their rejection of the Communist system and the Eastern Block of Europe. The Polish people had to face many challenges in developing a new democracy, such as what type of parties to develop and how to get the electorate involved after so many years of deprivation from the political process caused by the authoritarian control of the Communist Party. There have been many criticisms of the path that the Polish have taken such as the political parties were not developed enough to sustain a government after the first general election for the legislature of Poland. As well there has been a low voter turnout in Polish election since it has transformed their government. The Polish people have tremendous challenge in their efforts to develop a party system that meets their needs as a newly developing country.
Ware (1996) outlines three different approaches of studying party organizations. The first is the “electoral competition” models based on Duverger and Epstein. Though they differ in how the structural components of parties change, they both acknowledge, “that party organizations change in response to the demands of electoral competition” (Ware, 1996, 102). In other words competition breeds adaptation by the political parties. This relates somewhat to the notion of “Cartel parties” in both Koole (1996) and Katz and Mair (1995 and 1996). Koole asserts that, “the idea of a cartel is that it involves all major competitors in a ‘market’ (Koole, 508). Koole says that Katz and Mair (1995) idea of a cartel of parties is not new and summarizes them by asserting they view that established parties collaborate with each other to “prevent the entry of newcomers into the party system” with the help of state resources (Koole, 1996, 515).
The second approach is the “institutional” model. Panebianco argues that parties are constrained by their past as to what changes they can make to their organizations. He links the past, conditions of when the party was founded, to “patterns of power relations with the party (and between the party organizations its external environment) that could develop after its founding” (Ware, 1996, 100). Duverger does not deny that past plays an important role in how a party changes its structure; in fact the past is partly a basis for which he builds his typology, but he asserts that electoral forces will cause change. Specifically that caucus structured organization (related to cadre, elite based parties) will be forced to change to a branch structured organization (mass based parties), or a hybrid between a branch and caucus structure, to compete for votes. Epstein, on the other hand, views “party organization as nothing more than a response to the competition for votes” (Ware, 1996, 97). Panebianco does not deny the power of electoral change either, the difference between the two lies in the importance of different factors. In Panebianco’s argument parties are more constrained by their past.
The third approach, the "sociological" approach, is based on the importance of resources to party organizations. The availability of resources can influence the way in which a party organization forms its structure. An example is that the importance of a charismatic leader can be considered a resource in that the leader “might conceivably be available to an otherwise resource-poor party but not to a party that was ‘rich’ in both money and members” (Ware, 1996, 106). Epstein and Duverger incorporate this idea of resources into their argument. Epstein says parties need money to acquire services such as television airtime, and opinion polling (Ware, 1996, 97). Duverger says the organizational form of the Socialist Party, a form of mass based or branch structured political parties, was “superior because of the greater opportunities it provided for acquiring resources” (Ware, 1996, 96-97). For both Duverger and Epstein, the logic of competition is at the heart of their argument. The difference mentioned above between Epstein and Duverger plays out here. Duverger views the mass as the key to getting resources; the more members a party had the more resources, like money and labor, it could obtain (97). Epstein views a large membership as a constraint on the party. His view is that money to buy services is “more easily acquired from interest groups and individual donors than through seeking to recruit large mass membership” (Ware, 1996, 97). He argues that party leaders are more flexible to make decisions without the constraints of a large membership (97).
A final approach to studying party organizations come from Wolinetz (2002). In his approach he distinguishes between vote-seeking, office-seeking and policy-seeking parties and orients them within a triangle. Vote-seeking parties emphasize maximizing votes to win elections while policy-seeking and office seeking emphasize issues and holding office respectively. Parties can be positioned to incorporate more than just one emphasis on the triangle (i.e. a party can be both vote-seeking and office-seeking). But their organizations are developed to try and maximize their particular “niche.” In this view the party is structured to the goal of their objectives.
POL 628- Comparative Parties and Elections
The tendency seems to be to cling to the classification scheme that was developed when parties and party organizations first caught the attention of political scientists. In addition to these original categories, political scientists have attempted to update the typology by introducing new categories to cover new types of party organizations (like Katz and Mair’s (1995, 1996) cartel party, for example). This adherence to the original categorizations with occasional updates to include new types of party organizations may not be desirable. The purpose of this paper is to explore this idea as well as highlight some of the problems and potential solutions of classifying party organizations.
Political scientists want to classify party organizations in order to compare parties within a country, across countries, and over time. Rather than studying each individual party in isolation, this sort of comparison allows conclusions to be drawn about a broad class of phenomena. The difficulty in classifying party organizations is reminiscent of a similar problem that we discussed earlier this semester, that of creating an overarching typology of political parties. Efforts to categorize party organizations are plagued with the same problems as those attempts to classify political parties. Wolinetz (2002) notes three reasons that classifying party organizations is problematic. First, several of the classification schemes were created more than 50 years ago and, therefore, may not be able to accommodate the significant changes that parties and party organizations have undergone due to modernization and advances in technology. Secondly, in an effort to facilitate comparison across countries and over time, existing categories are often stretched to include parties that do not exhibit a tight fit with the definitional criteria for that category. Finally, most of the existing classification schemes are based on Western European parties, and those concepts may not travel well to new democracies, such as those in
Ware (1996) cites three different ways to categorize (or explain variation in) party organizations- electoral competition, institutional, and sociological. Duverger and Epstein have argued that certain types of party organization develop as a result of competition for votes between parties. Panebianco, by contrast, claims that party organizations are conditioned by the relationships of actors within the party. Finally, the sociological approach contends that party organizations develop in response to the resources available to the party. There are problems inherent in each of these classification schemes. In particular, Ware criticizes Duverger’s and Epstein’s categorizations as failing to recognize that a variety of resources are necessary for a party to be successful, not just those resources associated with mobilizing voters. Similarly, Ware critiques Panebianco’s approach as being “overly-theorized” and for overestimating the power of the party’s central leadership. While these are valid criticisms, it is also valid to note that Duverger’s approach suggests that the mass party possesses a superior organizational scheme to that of the cadre, branch, or caucus parties. Duverger assumed that all modern parties, in order to be successful, would organize into mass parties. In this sense, Duverger’s theory cannot explain the success of cadre parties, like those in the
Katz and Mair’s (1996) cartel party represents an attempt to add a new category to the existing classification scheme in order to include parties that have developed in modern societies. As a category, cartel parties, in part, are those that collude with each other to control resources and inhibit the rise of new parties (Ware 1996, 108). Ware (1996) notes that Katz and Mair cite state funding of parties and the growing importance of electronic media in political campaigns as evidence for this. Relative to this paper, Katz and Mair (1996) argue that the cartel party has become sufficiently common as to merit the classifying it as a separate type of party organization.
While this may provide greater accuracy than simply trying to squeeze the cartel-like parties into existing categories, it also may signal a problem. More specifically, at what point do existing categories become irrelevant? Given that several of this week’s authors referenced the creators of earlier categories, like Duverger and Panebianco, it certainly seems that the mass party and the electoral professional party are still relevant to understanding modern party organizations. However, if a new category is created for each new party type that emerges, then classification is essentially meaningless. That is, classification is only useful if we can find characteristics that the included parties have in common and if we can draw some broad conclusions about those parties based on those characteristics.
Koole (1996) notes the need to have a classification scheme that allows for the existence of several types of parties simultaneously. This would certainly help with the problem of concept-stretching in that it would allow researchers to avoid trying to fit new parties within the dominant paradigm. However, this could lead to the creation of a new category for each new party type, which would not enhance the clarity that a classification scheme is supposed to provide.
Developing a general classification scheme of party organization would be useful because it would provide ease in comparison across parties. However, it may be unrealistic to think that such a classification is possible. Crafting broad, general categories in which every party, even those emerging in new democracies outside of
One approach to the study of political parties it to identify states in their evolution, corresponding to the development of the societies in which they function. Von Beyme (1996) distinguishes between the elite parties, mass parties, catch-all parties, and parties of professional politicians, also called cartel parties. These states in the evolution of parties correlated roughly with the period before mass suffrage became general, class conflict engendered by industrialization, the rise of consumerism and decline of ideological conflict, and the emergence of a post-modern society wherein the political elite establishes direct contact with the people through television and other mass media.
Most recently the research on party organizations has led to this latest theory on party organization, that of the cartel party (Katz and Mair 1995). The cartel party has been described as being the last stage in the evolution of parties and has developed out of increased state support to the party, which has changed the orientation and direction of parties. From this week’s readings, Koole (1996) and Wolinetz (2002) offer their critique of the cartel party theory, while Katz and Mair (1996) respond to some of these criticisms.
Koole (1996) raises several interesting points concerning the cartel party argument to include that the relationship between the state and society variables are misguided. He posits that while the boundary between the two is not clear, this does not mean that there is a greater distance between the party and society. When Katz and Mair respond to this in their 1996 article, they maintain that while Koole is correct, previous research actually offers some reasoning as to why the hypothesis that the party is becoming detached from the society was put forth to start with. One reason was that state resources given to parties allow the parties to distance themselves from society and that society perceives this exchange of resources as creating such a distance.
Koole also argues that neocorpratism has moved the state and civil society to convergence and parties are the binding factor instead of parties being disengaged from society like Katz and Mair maintain. The latter once again agree with Koole that the parties may bind the state and society, however they contend that if Koole were to look into the future his model would be similar to theirs in that the state and society would continue to move towards one another until the party is contained within the state.
This dialogue between Katz and Mair and Koole appears to be a battle of semantics. While they disagree on the relationship between parties and the state, they still arrive at the same conclusion. On one level, it seems irrelevant that the party may be completely enclosed within the state as Katz and Mair predict, because the party will still not be dissolved even if this were to happen. Koole predicts that the party would still act as a binder for society and the state. The main difference is that the state might have more influence on the party. But if society already perceives a greater relationship between the party and state and the distance between the party and society has increased, the society could very well already braced themselves for this change so this entire argument might be irrelevant.
Ware (1996) identifies another set of ways as to how parties differ in their organization being. Ware concurs with Duverger’s electoral competition theory in how parties address competition impacts their organization, however Ware also mentions that there is more to it than what Duverger proposes. Ware argues that party organization alters because it is centered on competition and the known weaknesses or strengths need to beat out the competition. Another differentiation between parties is in institutionalization. Ware maintains that Panebianco puts too much emphasis on how the party’s organization structure was formed. Alternatively, Ware suggests that more thought needs to be given to the changes made in regard to party organization over time due to electoral strategies. Ware’s third example of how party organizations differ is based on sociological reasons and while logical, I do not think it offers much insight into what type of structure emerges.
Lastly, Wolinetz (2002) believes that research on party organization is problematic because it has concentrated on Western European party systems (such as Katz and Mair 1995) and changes instead of explaining the differences or similarities among party organizations. Wolintez argues that one should focus on the intricacy of organizations, power or the lack thereof, and associations among parties and other groups. This last proposal of looking at the associations or relationships among parties is actually what Koole suggested as he when maintained that Katz and Mair were wrong by not looking at the impact of international groups and neocorporatism as being influential in party organization. Wolinetz’s model is interesting because his article goes along with the previously mentioned party types (Ware 1996). For instance, the catch-all and electoral-professional type parties could be seen as equivalent with Wolinetz’s vote-seeking party and the cartel party along the same lines as his office-seeking party.
I thought this week’s readings on party organization all tied in together nicely. Competing theories were reviewed (Ware, Katz and Mair) and criticized (Koole) in such a way that it seemed as if the articles were talking to one another. One article (Wolinetz) even appeared to use the same reasoning as another (Ware) when developing its own classification system for party organizations. I find Katz and Mair’s findings very persuasive but recognize the value of Koole’s criticisms, especially since Katz and Mair were able to address these issues in their 1996 article. Party organization appears to vary on a party-by-party basis. Some parties are highly unified, while others are collections of factions that may not have a great deal in common except their commitment to share power. Some parties are very democratic organizations, not only permitting but encouraging intra-party competition, while others permit no internal competition at all and are simply organizations dedicated to following and supporting a single individual’s political advancement.
This week’s readings concerned the membership of parties in Europe. The major focus was on how membership inside of political parties is evolving with the development and implementation of different technological advancements in the current political environment.
The political environment has changed significantly since the invention of the political party. Parties originated during the struggle to form a democratic style of government. The mass public, in its efforts to check and balance the power that the monarchy and the aristocracy had horded, invented parties to collectivize their action and instill their voice as the political process and dialog of the respective country. Since this period of social turmoil there have been great advancements in suffrage and social and economic equality. With these advancements, there has been a reduction in the need for the political party to serve as a tool to achieve these goals of social and electoral equality. In this void of an overwhelmingly important and pressing single issue that would catch all of the population into a specific party membership in these types of class based political parties have waned. The electorate, in the absence of these critical class based issues, tend to take the democratic process for granted and therefore decline in the membership of major “catch all” political parties.
The electorate also is tempted away from membership and participation in the major and primary political parties by an increase in competition for the electorates voting and personal attention. With the reduced need for social change the mass populace can deviate and cast their membership to other smaller and more specific political parties that develop in this new democratic environment. The populace has the fortunate opportunity to commit themselves to these other parties or to more specific special interests or single issue organizations. It is only expected with an increase in the competition for the attention of the electorate, the mainstream political parties would suffer a decrease in their membership roles.
The political parties are also facing an increase in competition from non political actors. The political parties must compete with the electorate’s careers and personal lives. As more opportunities arise for the electorate to engage and spend time in such an increase level of work and recreation hours it can only be logically assumed that this increase in competition would result in the political parties having to endure a decrease in the level of activity that it’s members contribute to the parties activities and goals.
On the counter side, political parties decrease in membership and activity can be attributed to the technological advancements in the means of political communication. As the level of mass communication has increased the elites of the political parties have found it easier to reach the electorate and spread their message through the use of television. With the increased ease of contacting and influencing the electorate the political elite have a reduced need to rely on the mass membership of the public inside their party. The elites can reach the general voter by more efficient means and have a reduced need for the man to man communications previously used as a means of influence by the parties. With this reduced need of massive personnel heavy organization the parties have been able to afford to reduce their activist membership numbers. The parties no longer have to use this personnel intensive method and therefore, as an effort to consolidate the power of the elites, the parties can reduce the amount membership they maintain.
There is also a reduced need for the electorate to be an active member of the political party. There is an ever increasing power shift inside the party to the voting membership. More and more power is being given to the electorate and being shifted away from the party activists such as the ability to select candidates and to help set the issue agenda of the party. With the decreased power allotted to the activists, there is a directly correlated reduction in the benefit to the electorate for sacrificing their limited resources by allocating the time and energy required to be an activist.
An important difference between the two structures is the level of activity each exhibits. While the caucus structure (associated with cadre parties) is active during election periods, it “lives in a period of hibernation … meetings are neither frequent nor regular” (Duverger,1990, 39). In contrast, the branch structure (associated with mass parties) “remains important, and above all regular, in the intervals between ballots”(39). In the branch system, which is related to the mass parties, the organization mobilizes, politically educates and recruits leaders among the working class. It also is reliant upon its members financially by spreading its financial burden among the largest number of members (41). The caucus structure and cadre parties are associated with the “party of individual representation”, while the branch structure and mass parties are associated with the “party of integration” outlined by Neumann (1990, 47). Membership in the former is limited and the organization is dormant between elections. Membership in the latter is characterized by “increasing influence over all spheres of the individual’s daily life (47). Neumann argues that a hybrid of these two types of parties is called for in modern democracies, one he terms the “party of democratic integration” (48). This party assures the individuals place, but also integrates the individual into society. Another type of party is presented by Kirchheimer (1990), in which he terms it the “catch-all party.” With respect to membership activity this party seeks to downgrade the role of individual members (58) but also continue to express widely felt popular concerns (57).
In non-liberal democracies, Ware (1996) points out that membership and activity can take many forms. Parties can be repressed or free, this depends on the regime, the particular country and opposition that a regime faces. The party and its members may be exiled, in which case membership is highly restrictive (137). The alternative is a party may be in a capacity to contest elections but the democratic regime is periodically replaced by an authoritarian regime, in which case membership is open, but membership is stifled by perceived danger (135). In other cases there can be costs associated to membership to the parties. A large membership based on incentives can destabilize the party on ideological grounds and corruption within the party could become a problem, such as in one party systems (137). In authoritarian regimes, parties can be outright banned or parties can survive. In the case where parties survive, it is usually to confer legitimacy to the ruling regime, but the opposition parties have no power. In this case membership is stifled by the party itself or by the regime. The party will be unwilling to expand for “fear that the party may become infiltrated with member and activists who have only superficial commitment to the party’s goals”(138). The regime may repress radical ideologies and members may pay a higher cost in joining the opposition party (138).
Research on European democracies has shown that party membership is and has been in decline (Mair and van Biezen, 2001; Seyd and Whiteley, 2004). Mair and van Beizen (2001) compare twenty European democracies’ total party membership to see if party membership in the electorate of those countries has declined since the 1980s. They find that among major parties, membership has declined substantially. When divided into long established democracies and relatively new democracies, party membership in established democracies has fallen 60 percent from levels recorded in the 1980s. By contrast party membership in the relatively new democracies of Hungary, Slovakia, Greece and Spain have increased substantially, though this does not include all new democracies; the Czech Republic exhibits the same patterns as established democracies. Their overall conclusion from this data is evidence of “widespread disengagement from party politics” (6).
The major goal in this piece was to update and confirm a trend of decline in party membership among European democracies in which they succeed. Their method of data gathering is suspect, relying on political parties own admittedly skewed estimates of membership. This skewed estimate diminishes their conclusions, yet they do make no far-reaching conclusions and admit the data is flawed. In what they set out to do, they do succeed.
Seyd and Whiteley (2004) find that party membership is in decline in Britain and has been the case, “particularly since the 1980’s” (356). They note that between 1994 and 1998 that the Labour Party increased in membership. They attribute this to Labour’s willingness to provide incentives and emphasizing the social organization of the party, much like that of Duverger’s “mass party.” They argue that declining membership can be turned around with producing the right incentives to join the party (357). They provide several explanations for the decline in membership numbers. They divide them into supply side and demand side explanations. On the supply side they argue that (a) people have options other than parties to become politically active, (b) time pressures such as work have reduced the pool of individual members, (c) socioeconomic and demographic changes have reduced potential members (357-358). On the demand side they argue, “party leaders now have less need for individual members” (358). They find that members level of activity have declined as well as time devoted to the party. The authors outline the benefits and consequences to the parties of declining party membership. On the benefits side the parties will reduce financial costs and decision making time on the consequences side they will lose electoral support, potential leaders, and human resources. The parties will also find it more difficult to link mass opinion to policy goals.
While the authors do draw some conclusions about the decline in member’s activities they do not address their supply and demand side arguments. Instead they focus on the decline of previously active members and activists. They also draw conclusions on the availability of potential members from the supply side argument without any test or display for trends as evidence for this conclusion.
Koole maintains that Dutch political parties should be viewed as modern cadre parties because the proportion of their supporters who they sign up as members is quite modest, and the parties are chiefly agents for active members. He suggests that the characteristics of the modern cadre party includes the dominance of the professional leadership groups, but with a high degree of responsibility to the lower classes in the party. This kind of party also has a low member/voter percentage, even though members continue to be important as a source of money, as a means of recruiting candidates for political office, and as the bodies who are essential just to keep the party in working order. Another characteristic is a strong and wide range orientation toward voters, but with a method which is neither catch-all, on the one hand, nor concentrating on a classe gardee on the other. The final characteristic he points out is the dependence of financial resources on a combination of both public subsidies and the fees and donations of members. All of this is practical when distinguishing between contemporary Dutch parties from earlier cadre or mass parties, but brings up the questions about how one should categorize other parties which also differ from nineteenth century cadre parties.
Ware, Alan. 1987. Citizens, Parties, and the State: A Reappraisal. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ware attempts to deal with the matter of classifying parties by improving Duverger’s distinction and differentiating between elite centered and mass membership parties. Elite based parties, such as the British Conservatives, can have a considerable number in membership, but their main feature is domination by a fairly small group at the center. On the otherhand, membership centered political parties are those in which members are more than a workforce and have some say or ownership in the party. Therefore it is no size of membership which makes a difference, but instead the degree to which they are expected to participate. Both big and small parties (such as the Greens and other parties on the left) could be membership centered. One can take Ware’s distinction either as a paraphrasing of Duverger’s writings or as the addition of a second dimension, extent of membership involvement, to the primary dimension, and size of active membership.
Skocpol, Theda. 2002. “United States: From Membership to Advocacy.” in Robert D. Putnam (ed.) Democracies in Flux. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Skocpol proposes that the United States is moving towards a society where normal citizens are becoming less likely to be mobilized into parties and civic groups and instead, the wealthier Americans are again and again called upon to “write checks”. Skocpol contends that the classic America of balanced civic life and broad participation has seen its day in history. This unique design of state-society relations involved mass public education and opportunities for social mobility, democracy, and a multi-layered democratic government that intentionally and unintentionally urged federated voluntary associations. This permitted a highly participatory society, where markets and government developed without encompassing civil society. For the future, Skocpol sees the manifestation of a civic order that is predicated less on membership in traditional voluntary associations than on the work of professional nonprofit organizations that are more corporate than associative in nature.
Von Beyme, Klaus. 1996. “Party Leadership and Change in Party Systems: Towards a Postmodern Party State?” Government and Opposition 21(2): 135-159.
In his analysis of parties in continental Europe, von Beyme proposes that there have been and still are fast changes in the organization of and functions carried out by political parties across different European parties. These revisions describe a convergence in the ideological policy identities of major parties, which in turn produces more space for interest groups and single issue parties to attract more support among those citizens who feel strongly about specific issues. Traditional purposes of the party joined with the education and mobilization of voters are being affected by electronic communications such as TV and the internet. Mailings, videos, database marketing, and interactive websites weaken traditional campaigning and permit party leaders to speak to voters over the heads of party activists, further sidelining them. Party members become much less important to fundraising and campaigning than in the previous kinds of party development, while campaign managers, media advisers, marketers and design consultants become the significant players in what is a “permanent campaign”. This new type of media or professional party brings about a leadership which is increasingly free of the party membership and more and more dependent on the management of visibility through media constructions of favorable images and of policy.
Tan, Alexander. 2000. Members, Organization and Performance: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Party Membership and Size. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing.
This work looks at Western industrial democracies and their membership sizes. The independent variable here is the party membership size while the dependent variables include centralization of power, intra-party democratic performance, and organizational complexity. Tan’s research shows that as party size increases so does the centralization of power, complexity of the party, and levels of participation. But that being said, size does not affect the level of democratic performance. The author comments that party membership is on the decline, but that this decline in membership should not be a big issue because parties are just changing. In the past, parties were contingent upon mass membership, but they are transforming into more professionalized parties. In doing so, the influence of parties has not changed.
February 18, 2008
POL 628- Comparative Parties and Elections
Early political parties (cadre parties or parties of individual representation) had very few members. Their successors, mass integration and catch-all parties, by contrast, boasted large memberships rolls. The transition from relatively small cadre parties to catch-all parties is one dominant theme evident in this week’s readings. A second theme involves the decline in party density and in the number of party activists across nearly all liberal democracies. Most authors agree that societal changes, such as greater suburbanization, near-full employment, deindustrialization, and the rise of mechanisms of mass communication, have contributed to this decline. The purpose of this paper is to examine these two themes.
Parties in Transition
Broadly, a problem in many liberal democracies prior to World War II was the failure to integrate class-based parties into the political system. While, in the early 1900s, socialist parties facilitated the transition from an agrarian lifestyle to an industrialized one for their members, other political system actors were not willing to recognize the working-class parties as equals. War and the economic burdens thereof politicized the masses more than participation in elections, the struggle for suffrage, or the coming together of those similarly situated in parties or unions. However, Kircheimer (1990) notes that politicization is not integration. Bourgeois parties had not advanced from parties of individual representation to parties of integration. Parties of individual representation limit membership to elites and exist only for the purpose of electing candidates to office (Duverger 1990; Neumann 1990).
Following World War II and in response to factors like economic depression, the war itself, and decolonization, mass parties began to replace the particularistic bourgeois parties. Mass parties were able to exchange depth (the degree to which the party permeated every aspect of members’ lives) for breadth (a wider audience and electoral success). Due to a growing need for broad-based consensus, parties became catch-all organizations, trying to embrace the widest possible variety of groups. Becoming a catch-all party involves disposing of ideological baggage, downgrading the role of the individual party member, and deemphasizing class and denominational differences. Parties must be sufficiently different so that voters can distinguish between them; but they are likely to converge in many ways because all are trying to attract the greatest number of voters.
Parties in Decline
Many scholars of American politics have lamented the decline of political parties over the past several decades. Interestingly, this decline is taking place across most liberal democracies, not just in the United States. Initially, scholars had argued that party membership itself was not in decline; rather, party membership was not keeping pace with population growth. However, Mair and Van Biezen (2001) note that since the 1980s that “party membership, expressed in both absolute numbers and as a percentage of the electorate, is now markedly in decline” (11). Similarly, Muller (1997) notes that “the balance of costs and benefits of party membership is shifting and membership has become less attractive for both party leaders and members” (171).
There are several factors that might explain the decline of membership in political parties. Ware (1996) notes that material and solidary incentives are less effective for parties in attracting members than they once were and that using purposive incentives has become risky. Mair and Van Biezen (2001) cite a general decline in social capital as the culprit for decreasing party membership. Seyd and Whiteley (2004) note that there are both supply side and demand side explanations for the decline in party membership. On the supply side, as individuals’ lives become increasingly busy, other pressures compete for the time they could devote to party work. On the demand side, members are less central to the parties’ mobilization efforts due to innovations in mass communication methods and also are less important as a source of funding due to increases in corporate contributions.
These explanations for the decline in parties should be accepted with some caution, however. None of the authors of this week’s readings explicitly test their claims regarding why levels of party membership and activism have declined. Arguably, the data needed to test these competing explanations may not be available. This reality may excuse all the authors except Seyd and Whiteley (2004), who use original survey data. Presumptively, these authors had the opportunity to ask respondents why they choose not to engage in party activities or even become a party member, which would have allowed them to directly test their supply side and demand side explanations. However, while they data they present (raw percentages of party activity and party membership) indicate that these activities have declined, they are silent with regard to causation. In other words, Seyd and Whitely (2004) draw conclusions that are beyond the scope of their data.
Some scholars have argued that the purpose of political parties is to gain control of government by electing their candidates to public office. It would seem that cadre parties could fulfill this task. Tracing the process of the development of the catch-all party begs the question of why parties would seek to expand their membership base. Ware (1996) cites several reasons that parties need members. Members serve as a source of money and labor for parties. Members often perform mobilization activities that are essential for the party’s electoral success. Additionally, a large membership lends legitimacy. While some parties have their ideological roots in the notion of mass participation, party leaders may have incentive to build membership; for example, if the party is linked closely to another organization, leaders of that organization may have the opportunity to dominate the party. Parties create communities of people who share the same ideology in order to insulate them from competing ideologies. Parties utilize a variety of incentives (selective benefits) to attract and retain members and activists.
Political Parties and their respective successes is dependent upon the make up and mentality of the electorate of the country in which the party resides. A party’s success is dependent on the electoral turnout in any given election. The voter turnout helps to shape where the median voter’s ideology is located. The turnout by the electorate affects how the median vote moves as a mathematical function. If one or more groups either turnout to vote or choose to abstain from voting, this will affect the sum of the vote. This change in the voting electorate can potentially shift the median vote one way or another on the left-right political spectrum. With this potential shift of the median voter, there is an affect on the outcome of a majority based election. If the median party moves to the left then the net effect of the election will be that the legislature will also reflect this movement by having more officials from the party on the left elected, or the more conservative party will have to compensate by shifting its agenda and ideology to the left in order to compensate for the shift in the electorate. Bohrer concludes that the turnout in an election has a definite affect in the out come of an election, as proved through the use of newly developed post communistic countries in Europe. This phenomenon is particularly important when an increase in turnout is expected in a specific demographic of the population. If this demographic is likely to vote for one of the parties in a disproportionate amount then this change in the turnout could have quite a significant effect on the outcome of the election. Since the turnout of an election can have an effect on the outcome, does this also have an effect on the governmental policies of a country.
The turnout of an election can shift the median vote of a country and can possibly influence the outcome of an election but does the outcome of an election effect the policies that are adopted by government in power. There is inconclusive evidence that the policies that are adopted and implemented by a government are at all affected by the left and right leanings of a government. Therefore, since we can say that it is potentially likely that there is some affect on the output of the policies that a government embraces due to the ideological make up of the government, it there is the potential for the turnout in a given election to have an affect on the tract that the government takes and the style of policies that this government adopt and implement.
If the electorate can implement changes in the outcomes of the policies adopted, is there ever a fundamental change in the median vote and would this as a result possibly change the outcomes of the policies adopted by the government? The Kim piece shows the political leanings of the electorate does shift over time and that these trends tend to coincide amongst all of the Western World. If the political leanings of the electorate shift, is this potential caused by an increase in the turnout of specific groups? This would be a very unique item of study to examine if the mindset of the average voter actually shifted one way or another on the political spectrum or if the statistical median is shifted due to a significant change of the make up of the electorate due to potential change in the turnout of the elections for a country. Is the average person actually altering their political positions during these times of net ideological change or are there simply other factors at play that cause the make up of the electorate to change and as a result of this change the inferential statistics also change and with it the potential of a change in the electoral success of the political players and parties in a specific period of elections.
If these shifts in the median vote occur, do they have an effect on the policies of the government in there respective countries? Since it has been proven that the ideological leanings of the government have potential to affect the policy outcomes of a government, and that a shift in the median vote could have a potential change in electoral outcomes, it is foreseeable that these changes could affect the policies of the country. So it is quite possible that voter turnout in a specific election could have such a reaching impact that it could affectively alter the potential policy outcomes of that country.
Ware (1996) gives a broad theoretical overview of two schools of thought of party ideological development. One views parties as able to “adapt their ideology to the opinions and values of their likely supporters” (18). The second says parties have “some capacity for adaptation” to their supporter’s views and opinions, but it is limited by the ideology the party was founded upon (18). Klaus von Beyme developed the framework Ware (1996) utilizes for studying the ideology of parties. Von Beyme developed this typology for studying European liberal democracies and identified nine “families” of parties: Liberal and Radical parties, Conservative parties, Socialist and Social Democratic parties, Christian Democratic parties, Communist parties, Agrarian parties, Regional and ethnic parties, Right-wing extremist parties and Ecology parties. Ware argues that these “families” can help to identify types of parties by ideology in various liberal democracies outside of Europe today. His overall argument is that parties ideologies at their founding persist but change over time because “there will be ‘ideological space’ to fill” (47).
This leads to questions such as what impact have ideologies of political parties had on government policy, a question that is explored in Imbeau et al (2001). They face two conflicting theoretical schools of thought regarding this subject. The ‘convergent’ school argues that twentieth century industrial societies have grown increasing similar, facing the same types of problems and implementing the same kinds of solutions. Supporters of the ‘politics matters’ school argue, “there is a correlation between partisan variables and policy outputs” (1). Imbeau et al. look for support for the partisan theory through examining 43 research articles with 693 parameters. They perform ‘meta analysis’ by counting the number of successes and failures in each article (parameters) and the articles themselves. They also perform a regression on the “vote-counting” results. These test produce statistically insignificant results, neither able to confirm nor reject the null hypotheses (convergence) of no party impact. This research suffers from a small number of cases and from a large percentage of cases coming from the same source. By eliminating articles by Castle alone, which was 26 percent of their parameters, their results significantly change.
Another question deals with party ideology and voters. Kim and Fording (2003) address party and voter ideology across 25 western democracies. They develop the ideology of voters through vote shares of parties in elections for the period of 1945-1998. They assume the theory of Anthony Downs with is outlined in Ware (1996) when calculating the ideology of voters. A voter will vote for a party that is nearest to their own ideological view. Kim and Fording assume that voters for a party fall with in a range that extends from the midpoints between the party voted for and the party to the left and right. They also assume that party manifestos will give an accurate reading of a parties ideology. They find that there are significant differences between countries in western democracies and that over time trends change. The assumptions made in Kim and Fording (2003) limit the strength of their model. The assumption that party manifestos give an accurate reading of the party’s ideology may give a false reading of the ideology of the party and leaves out may aspects of the party. “[T]here are aspects of [the party’s] ethos and their values that either are not articulated or are believed by those active in the party to be not worth stating” (Ware, 1996, 20).
Bohrer et al. (2000) address the question of vote shares as well. Among post-communist European nations “do shifts in electoral participation affect vote shares for different types of political parties in volatile environments?” They postulate that increased turnout benefits that left and confirm this hypothesis. They also observe that formerly communist nations are conforming to “established patterns of Western liberal democracies. The interesting finding in this piece is that increased turnout is benefiting ex-communist parties on the left. The left is very dependent of the increased turnout and it is translating into gains. This piece provides insight into the beginnings of parties and observations of transition to liberal democracies. It is a good starting point to continue research into the area as time progresses and parties expand their ideological bases.
The final question is about ideology of parties in parties outside of liberal democracies. Ware (1996) finds that in regimes outside of liberal democracies, control of the state has been used to promote the party ideology. This is not true of liberal democracies. In these regimes there is greater input into the state by the party and in some cases, such as regimes where the communist party is in control, parties are able to regulate adherence to the party ideology. In other instances ideologies vary wildly within the party such as Mexico’s PRI which ruled until the 1990’s.
As evidenced in Ware 1996 (Chapter 1), just as interest groups were seen to be a political structure that assists in the representation function in the political world, so too the political party serves as a linkage mechanism in passing along public opinions from various groups in the electorate to government officials. The degree to which parties serve these several functions depends upon the individual party organization and the political system within which it is found. Depending upon the number of political parties in a system, the degree of party discipline found in the political system, and the ideology and constituency of the party in question, the role of the party will vary.
This leads to the question of whether or not it matters which party controls the government? Officially, different parties seek different policies and this made clear from official statements. But in reality, official policy goals may also be sought to bring about political credibility, which is essential in parties’ competition for electoral support. Establishing a reputation may be in the rational self-interest of party leaders, but political leaders cannot always get what they want. They are not the only actors engaged in public policy. Interest groups, the bureaucracy, and the voters have considerable policy interests too. Party leaders are also often constrained by economic or institutional factors, which may leave very little room for change. Political parties are therefore far from being supreme actors, but they are, as noted by Ware, pervading players in politics. It seems logical to assume that parties will have an effect on public policy.
The idea of whether there is increased voter turnout for parties holding certain ideologies is the subject matter for Bohrer et al’s article. In particular, post-communist Europe is examined from 1990 to 1999. The authors found that there is actually an increase in voter turnout in parties on the left (when the total voter turnout is increased as well). This research suggests that post-communist structures are starting to mimic liberal-democratic regimes in that the left is gaining support. Since these types of parties include more blue collar voters there is likely to be a shift in the types of policies implemented in these countries as well.
Research on the partisan cycle hypothesis usually calculates the direction and the strength of the relationship between the ideological orientation of governments (which basically is a measure of discourse) and their action, measured most of the time through public spending. While Kim and Fording illustrated how party manifesto data can be used to determine the electorate’s position, but they cannot be used to determine the position of individual voters, Imbeau et al showed that the influence of party ideology is not significantly different from zero. The former article conducts research using Western democracies to find that there has been a shift to the left in ideology during the 60s and a shift to the right in the 70s. Despite these shifts on the aggregate level, some democracies (including the United States) have kept a stable ideology.
The partisan cycle literature was the basis of Imbeau et al’s article which found that 71% of the statistical tests used in research on this relationship during the 21 year time span fails to reject the null hypothesis. In other words, most of the tests refute the partisan cycle hypothesis therefore asserting that dissonance is dominant. In general I believe, this is a reasonable record, accounting for the simplicity of many of these studies (58% are bivariate). Additionally, as this article explains statistically, the primary evidence of partisan policy effects comes from multivariate analyses of samples after 1973, examining government “size” in terms of revenue, spending, employment, or social welfare effort. But even though there is no significant correlation between party composition and policies there are circumstances were party composition may be likely to effect policy outputs. Some of these circumstances include the choice of multiple variables, sample size, and policy domain within studies.
Some have speculated about the future of political parties and whether they can continue to be as central a political structure in their respective political systems as they have been in the past. The continual growth of executive power in political systems all over the world, combined with greater public attention to politics and increasingly aggressive media, means that traditional assumptions about political parties and party behavior have to be rethought.
February 11, 2008
POL 628- Comparative Parties and Election
Parties and Ideology
Given that ideology is a tool for achieving electoral success, a party is likely to alter its ideology as the opinions and values of voters change. Such adaptation is necessary if the party is to achieve electoral success. With regard to how the need to succeed electorally impacts party ideology, Ware (1996) suggests that are parties are often compelled to “water down” their ideology in order to have broader based appeal among voters. For example, early Liberal parties advocated universal suffrage, which was not a feature of their original party program, in order to attract the support of the middle class. Similarly, in the 1980s and 1990s, Social Democratic parties moved further away from favoring public ownership of the means of production and turned toward advocating a continuation of protecting the economically disadvantaged through state-funded welfare programs and toward “controlling the excesses of private economic power” (35). Bohrer, Pacek, and Radcliff (2000) note that former ruling Communist parties succeeded in attracting working class votes by “positioning themselves as defenders of the disadvantaged during the painful economic transition” following the fall of Communist regimes (1163). In this sense, parties can and do adapt their ideologies in an attempt to appeal to voters.
By contrast, Ware (1996) also notes that parties are, to some extent, “prisoners of history” and that “aspects of the ideology a party had when it was founded persist, even after the conditions in which developed have changed, and the party’s history shapes how it adapts when it is able to do so” (18). This suggests that parties are not always able to adapt their ideologies when necessary in order to attract mass support. I take issue with this portion of Ware’s argument. He seems to be suggesting that parties are strictly endogenous to the political system and ignoring the idea that they are exogenous as well. If parties both shape and are shaped by the political system, it seems disingenuous to argue that parties are “prisoners” of their political system and that there may be circumstances under which they would be unable to adapt their ideologies in response to electoral pressures. A better argument is that there may be circumstances under which a party may choose not to adapt its ideology. For example, if the party fears alienating core (and perhaps more ideologically pure) supporters, it may choose not to waver from its original ideals. That parties are “prisoners of history” does not seem to be among the best explanations for failure to adapt.
Further, if one considers the argument advanced by Imbeau, Petry, and Lamari (2001), one might argue that ideology is no more than an electoral tool and, as such, it is to a party’s advantage to continually adapt its ideology in order to attract voters. Imbeau, Petry, and Lamari find little support for the claim that change in the ideological composition of government translates into change in policy outputs. These authors contend that the empirical evidence supporting the notion that advanced industrialized nations “have become increasingly similar, facing the same kinds of problems and applying the same kinds of solutions” (1) is substantial.
Additionally, Ware (1996) notes that many former Communist parties changed their names and their ideology after the fall of the
To take the preceding discussion in a slightly different direction, most of this week’s readings suggest that voters choose which parties or candidates to support on the basis of ideology (Kim and Fording 2003; Bohrer, Pacek, and Radcliff 2000; Ware 1996). This need not be the case. These authors assume that the left-right ideological continuum is a meaningful organizational tool for voters. Ideology is only one of many possible explanations for vote choice. For example, some voters may continue to vote for a party’s candidates election after election because partisanship is a stable, psychological attachment (see
Seminar in Comparative Elections
Weekly Reading Assignment
The reading this week focused on the reasons political parties were created, how that they were established, and why they continue to exist in the modern day political arena. Once the reading establishes why political parties formed, the reading ventures into far greater explanation of the different potential types of political parties. The reading further explains the role the parties take inside of their respective political cultures.
Political parties were created out of a necessity of human nature. Aldrich explains in depth the mathematical advantages for parties to form inside a political environment. Aldrich does this by placing the creation of parties inside the creation of the United States and the formation of the American two political party system.
Aldrich explains the mathematical advantage of forming political parties through the use of the collective action problem. When members of a legislative body are faced with problems concerning the issue of distributing a limited good they are faced with a definitive problem of determining how to maximize the gain of their constituency while minimizing the possibility of incurring a potential loss. As Aldrich explains, this is best achieved through the formation of a political party to further the goals of the individual.
Parties are created by a common long term coalitions between two or more members of the legislative body. The main goal of this style of political party is to achieve a coalition that is exactly one vote greater than the minimum required vote to achieve a majority. Doing this in this exact manner would allow for the maximum advantage for the partisan members by having the fewest members that are required to have while still retaining a controlling vote inside the legislative body.
Aldrich further explains this phenomenon, which justifies the formation of political parties inside of a legislative body, by expanding it to the electorate as a whole. A coalition of individuals inside the electorate can influence the legislative body in a manner to increase the benefit of the individuals involved while collectively reducing the damage that they are forced to endure is the exact reason why political parties are established.
Once it is accepted that political parties are a natural and functional part of a democratic society, then the question hinges on what or which types of political parties are best for the political environment of the country where they are being formed. Gunther classifies the type of and style of a party that can take on. To classify the types of potential and historic political parties, Gunther uses three areas of focus: formal organization, the party's pragmatics commitments, and the tolerant and pluralist tendencies. These areas of focus are used by the respective political party to classify the party into fifteen different classifications which cover the spectrum from the catch all types of parties, to the political parties based on religious fundamentalism.
Political parties can vary from the highly organized, organizationally "thick" to the organizationally "thin". Thick groups have a large leadership base which have many local and personal leadership positions. While the thin style of organizations uses the mass media to limit the amount of leadership required to achieve the same results in the electorate as the thicker varieties of political parties.
The second area of focus a political party must decide in order to effect the political environment in which they exist is the level of pragmatisms they maintain. Some parties seek to completely revolutionize the culture they are involved in. The European Communists parties are a strong example of this. These parties are highly selective of who they allow into their membership. They are also willing to break the established rules of the jurisdiction in which they reside since they do not plan on a continued existence in the current environment. Whereas other parties are happy with the current environment and do not want a complete electoral revolution, consequently they are far more open in their membership and realize the benefits of following the established rules governing politics as well as mutual respect of the other political parties.
The third focus examined by Gunther is the level of tolerance towards opponent parties the examined party takes on. As mentioned previously, parties who want to establish a dramatic change in the political environment are far more likely to be hostile towards the opponent parties. This differs from the parties who are content with the current situation and who realize that it is not advantageous to be hostile to the rival parties since they have to plan on continued relations with the rival organizations.
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Political parties are typically viewed as the chief organizations in democracies that seek voters even though they can only offer collective benefits. Parties also try to acquire stable governmental majorities. Therefore, it is on the political party, out of all the democratic institutions, that theories of party formation hit on most directly. Aldrich gives a nice explanation of these theories as they have been applied in specific situations but also gives a compelling and original explanation of the development of political parties.
Aldrich’s theory of political parties appears to be based on rational choice. He examines how ambitious politicians who try to achieve their objectives and create and develop parties to overcome the social-choice problem of unstable majorities like the collective-action problem of mobilizing the electorate. He highlights the importance of institutions and historical context in understanding parties. Therefore political parties are examined in terms of the multiple objectives of political elites, the institutional rules which they work under, and the historical context within which political elites make their choices. I find this meshing of the two approaches very useful and persuasive.
Aldrich demonstrates why and how political actors form parties as a rational reaction in pursing their own goals and how, as conditions change, these parties also change. He sees parties as endogenous institutions which gives a worthwhile alternative to theories that view parties as reflections of social cleavages. On the downside, this theory is solely American in nature with no discussion of parties outside the US (p. 45, 56). But one could argue that because the US provides such a negative setting for parties, Aldrich comes close to offering a general theory for all parties in democracies.
In contrast, Duverger believes that social forces were a major driving force behind the origin and subsequent multiplication of parties. He sees political parties as a reflection of social forces which are comprised of individuals with a set of socially regulated common interests. Duverger posits that as social developments give rise to the number of politically mobilized social forces, the number of parties will go up as well. Electoral institutions limit the influence of social forces on the formation of political parties. Social forces create more or less pressure for the multiplication of political parties and electoral laws either permit these pressures to be realized or they constrain them by discouraging the formation of new parties.
His theory is pretty clear cut and suggests that the number of parties should be an increasing function of the number of politically prominent social forces and that this relationship between social structure and the party system should be closer when electoral laws are more tolerant compared to when they are not. This theory is somewhat intertwined with Weber who observes that parties were, at first, mainly followings of the elites, formed according to class interest, family traditions or for ideological reasons.
Gunther and Diamond put forth a new typology of the world’s parties. They suggest five general species of political parties that are based on organizational characteristics as well as smaller and or specified kinds of parties rooted in their ideological character and strategic orientation. Their article introduces a couple of new party types, including the ethnicity-based party. It is not a mass party because, usually, it is organizationally very limited and more interested in assessing state resources than in ideology or policy. This kind of party is mainly concerned with just one ethnic group and can primarily be found in Asia and Africa. Another new party species, the electoralist, has a very interesting sub-type called the personalistic party which can be applied to parties like the Thai Rak Thai Party.
Overall this typology is a good improvement in getting one to think in a more systematic way about how parties vary. The drawback is that it still remains in some ways oriented to just the Western world and all of the categories represent ideal types but current parties usually tend to spread across them. For instance, many of the so-called ethnic or multi-ethnic parties in Africa are principally just vehicles for individual political leaders, though these are hardly the professionalized organizations deduced by the term electoralist.
Much of the literature on political parties seems to deal with organization and structure, or the relationship between militants and their leaders. The position of members within parties is analogous to that of the people within a democratic state. Another approach to the study of political parties is to identify stages in their evolution, corresponding to the development of the societies in which they function. I find this latter approach useful with the discussion of elite parties, mass parties, catch-all parties, and parties of the professional politicians. These states in the evolution of parties correlate roughly with the period before mass suffrage became general, class conflict engendered by industrialization, and the rise of the post-modern society. But how useful is it to view parties in the perspective of the modernizing process? I think the typologies illustrated in this week’s readings (especially Gunther and Diamond 2003) is a very useful starting point when studying if there is a decline in parties or party government. The formation of parties can be used to illustrate the direction of the party and whether it will see a decline in membership, party identification, change in goals, etc.
The origins and classification of political parties has been debated for some time now. The origins of a political party help to identify how parties should be classified. In this paper I review Gunther and Diamond's (2003) "Species of Political Parties" and Aldrich's (1995) "Why Parties Form."
The theme for this weeks reading is the origin of political parties. Aldrich (1995) forms his argument in terms of collective action and social choice. He says that parties form because of uncertainty and "The reason to enter a party is to win more and here that means reducing the uncertainty over future outcomes." He explains the
collective action problems in terms of independent legislators forming coalitions that benefit both actors. His explanation of the social choice problem is that when given a choice voters (in his example legislators voting on amendment, bill, or status quo) will choose the preferable outcome.
The voting behavior Aldrich outlines in the social choice problems set the stage for the median voter theorem outlined by Duncan Black, where the "ideal point of the median voter in a behavioral equilibrium. The substantive contribution of this work to party formation is it outlines, through theoretical underpinnings, conditions for party formation among individuals. The incentives for candidates to affiliate with a party, Aldrich says, are to have a "brand name." This allows candidates to express some of their positions to voters with out much work; it also allows candidates to reach a larger audience then going it alone.
Gunther and Daimond (2003) argue that the theoretical framework of classifications of political parties has fallen short of encompassing all parties; that "existing models of political parties do not adequately capture the full range of variation in party types." A criticism they have of the literature is that it does not include temporal, geographical and technological contexts. Another is the emerging parties have been mislabeled as a result of "concept stretching" (i.e. "emerging parties whose characteristics depart markedly from those which went into the original definition of the party system.").
Pulling from developed literature they develop five broad types of party organizations, and form subcategories of these party organizations as types of political parties; forming a type of "family tree" for political parties. This theoretical path helps to distinguish different categories of parties and allows for the inclusion of more parties in the future under subcategories. From this research they are able to identify 15 types of parties throughout the world and through different time frames.
A criticism Gunther and Diamond identify of their work is the complexity of their system. Their main interest is to design a model that could include all political parties in the world so they can be comparatively studied. In some situations there is overlap that can make it a little confusing, which takes away from the overall strength of their model. The five categories they classify all political parties under are Elite Parties, Mass-Based Parties. Ethnicity-Based Parties, Electoralist Parties and Movement Parties. The strength of this model is that it is very inclusive and allows for temporal changes in parties. The weakness is that it can become confusing and there is overlap in some of the definitions of the party organization categories. Gunther and Diamond advance this area of research by developing and inclusive model of party typology and defining the conditions of inclusion under different categories and subcategories. This model allows for more
subcategories and possibly categories to be created and revised on the basis of development of more parties.
Though these two pieces are different in their focus, they fit together to form a picture of the formation of political parties. Aldrich (2003) explains the formation of political parties in a technical sense through theory of individual behavior forming a party. Gunther and Diamond model for classification helps explain formation of parties from the aspect of how they originated and under what circumstances weather it be ideological or elite driven formation.
February 4, 2008
POL 628- Comparative Parties and Elections
The Origins of Political Parties
Kalyvas, Stathis N. 1998. “From Pulpit to Party: Party Formation and the Christian Democratic Phenomenon.” Comparative Politics 30: 293-312.
Earlier research has noted two competing explanations of the formation of Christian Democratic parties. One explanation argues that these parties have their roots in the Catholic Church and were created as a tool to reinforce Catholicism among adherents. Alternatively, it may be that Christian Democratic parties are merely Conservative parties in disguise (see Duverger 1966, for example). Kalyvas argues against both of these possibilities, alleging that the founding of Christian Democratic parties does not conform to the expectations of his model of party formation.
The Church was threatened by the growing of power of Liberal parties. In response to this threat, it chose to organize by forming an electoral coalition with the Conservatives. Church leaders believed that Liberal parties were not likely to survive for long, and, therefore, were willing to risk losing control over some of its membership in order to fight Liberal policies over the short term. The conditions of the coalition were such that the Church would officially remain outside the political arena but encourage its followers to support the Conservative parties. In return, Conservatives parties would defend the political interests of the Church. However, Conservatives had their own political agenda and would have preferred that the Church engage in a participatory strategy whereby church members would become members of a Conservative party. This would have prevented the Church from using electoral support as a bargaining tool.
Kalyvas’ model predicts that, at this stage, the Church should pull away from the Conservative parties and form a confessional party, which would better enable it to protect its interests and exercise control over its congregation. Citing evidence from
Kitschelt, Herbert. 1997. The Radical Right in
Kitschelt (1997) explains the rise of Radical Right parties as a consequence of structural changes in society that have led citizens to have different political preferences and caused different issues to become salient. The rise of Radical Right parties depends on three conditions. First, political actors must choose to address the demand for right-authoritarian politics; their ability to address this demand, however, will likely be constrained by the extent to which existing parties are satisfying this demand. Even if the political opportunity structure is favorably disposed to the emergence of a Radical Right party, leaders of rightist parties may fail to choose strategies that would permit them to take the greatest electoral advantage of the established parties or otherwise exploit the opportunities presented to them by the party system. Finally, Kitschelt argues that Radical Right cannot succeed by focusing on only a single issue; economic crises and immigration can serve as catalysts for the rise of a Radical Right party but, ultimately, the party will need a broader message.
Kitschelt examines variation across Radial Right parties in
Kitschelt, Herbert. 1988. “Left-Libertarian Parties: Explaining Innovation in Competitive Party Systems.” World Politics 40: 194-234.
The emergence of Left-Libertarian parties can be explained as a function of structural change and resource mobilization. In terms of structural change, Kitschelt argues that since societies are constantly changing; existing institutions may not be able to keep pace with this change; such failure may cause citizens to become dissatisfied. “Structural transformation promotes collective mobilization around new issues and new lines of conflict” (196). Resource mobilization depends on the skills of individual actors and the openness of the political opportunity structure. Left-Libertarian parties are more likely to emerge in economically advanced, small, corporatist welfare states. The success of these parties depends on whether there is already a leftist party that has been in government for an extended period and whether the supporters of such a party feel that the party is representing their interests.
Lucardie, Paul. 2000. “Prophets, Purifiers, and Prolocutors: Towards a Theory on the Emergence of New Parties.” Party Politics 6: 175-85.
Parties generally have to overcome many obstacles before being recognized as legitimate by voters and gaining a place in government. Lucardie recognizes three broad classifications of parties; classification is based on the reasons behind the party’s formation. This first category of parties recognized by Lucardie are prolocutors. These parties form around the notion of alleviating some particular social problem may be largely non-ideological. Purifiers comprise the second category of parties. Parties aimed at purification tend to be founded by “dissident members of an established party which has revised its ideology” (177). Purification parties seek to return to a given ideology’s roots and advance public policies that are in keeping with the true nature of that ideology. Prophetic parties, the final category, attempt to build new ideologies around new issues, like global warming.
Lucardie then examines the electoral challenges that will present each type of new party and suggests strategies by which each might succeed. For example, he notes that new parties will have to mobilize resources, like money and media attention, in order to attract voters. This is likely to be easier for purification parties, as voters already have some familiarity with the ideology they espouse. Attracting voters will be the most difficult for prophetic parties, because they will have to educate voters about their new ideology.
Moser, Robert G. 1999. “Independents and Party Formation: Elite Partisanship as an Intervening Variable in Russian Politics.” Comparative Politics 31: 147-65.
The legacy of communism has left Russian voters and elites alike with a general distaste for parties. Moser notes that the political parties that have formed under the
Elite partisan activity is measured as the percentage of candidates running under a party label, the percentage of partisan candidates who win election, and the number of polarized districts (districts where there are candidates representing both reformist and anti-reformist parties) (151). Moser finds that the number of candidates who identify themselves as partisans increased from 1993 to 1995 and that this increase is strongly correlated with higher voter turnout. However, he finds no link between party formation and rates of urbanization, suggesting that parties do not form in urban areas and then proliferate into the countryside. One possible explanation for this is the presence of a party based in rural areas that enjoyed some success in the 1993 and 1995 elections. A second possible explanation involves the relative unpopularity of urban-based reformist parties among rural voters during this time.
Norris, Pippa. 2005. Radical Right: Voters and Parties in the Electoral Market.
Earlier explanations for the formation of Radical Right parties argue that these parties were essentially protest parties and/or that they grew up out of resentment for the existing political order. To some extent, this is likely true. Radical Right supporters tend to be racist, xenophobic, nationalistic, and distrustful of the existing political institutions. Thus, Radical Right parties form because supporters do not feel that they are represented by the mainstream or existing parties. Not surprisingly, Radical Right parties have enjoyed electoral success with appeals to immigration, unemployment, and economic insecurity. However, both the protest politics and politics of resentment arguments suggest that Radical Right parties form (and voters ultimately support them) for purely negative reasons, such as dissatisfaction with government performance over immigration issues or feelings of alienation, leaving no room for any positive motivation for support (152).
Using data from the 2002 European Social Survey and the 1996 to 2001 Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, Norris finds little support for these arguments. The Radical Right draws support from petite bourgeoisie (self-employed professionals, small merchants) and from the skilled and unskilled working class. This cross-class coalition suggests that the Radical Right should not be regarded as “purely a phenomenon of the politics of resentment” (147). Additionally, Norris finds that Radical Right supporters may not always be dissatisfied with government; their degree of dissatisfaction depends on whether Radical Right parties are included or excluded from power (163-64). Where parties are included, supporters tend to be more positive about government. While Radical Right supporters tend to be less trusting of legal and political institutions, Norris notes that distrust of institutions has grown in advanced industrial democracies, so this may not be a good explanation for increased Radical Right support.