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The Change of Party–State Relations in Advanced Democracies: A Party–Specific Development or Broader Societal Trend?

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter discusses the literature on parties in advanced democracies and develops three arguments. First, we need to move beyond a conceptualization of parties as citizen representatives and more systematically consider which functions parties as organizations fulfill when ‘running the state,’ a task that is keeping party elites increasingly busy. This allows us to assess whether party government handles the ‘functional’ challenges linked to governing better or worse than alternative models, such as expert government, which is increasingly prominent in the debate. Second, it is argued that observing symptoms of organizational decline of mainstream parties is in itself insufficient to conclude that the presence of an extra-parliamentary organization is not longer crucial to assure parties’ long-term success in an increasingly volatile electoral market. The study of organizationally new parties that faced the decision to invest resources in an organizational infrastructure over the last decades opens a window of opportunity to examine whether the mechanisms linked to the mass party model are really outdated as often claimed. Finally, the chapter raises the most fundamental question, namely whether indications of party change, especially intensifying party–state interpenetration, form part of a broader societal development that concerns voluntary organizations more generally or whether they are party-specific.

Keywords

Party-state relations Party cartelization Party organization New parties Party decline 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ExeterExeterUK

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