Louise K. Davidson-Schmich
While parties may respond to a range of demands when writing a manifesto or conducting an electoral campaign, actually governing forces parties to 'put their money where their mouth is'. When campaigning, a party can promise something for everyone, but in an era of high capital mobility, a party in government has control over only limited public funds to be distributed among a range of competing interests. Voters, party members and interest groups all call on governments to distribute scarce resources in particular ways. To whose demands do parties in government respond?
This question is particularly interesting to ask in light of the changes that the latter part of the twentieth century brought to the relationships between political parties and Western European citizens. Since the 1950s, Western European electorates have become more volatile, citizens have grown less likely to join political parties, traditional partisan ties to churches and unions have declined as a result of secularization and globalization, and rising post-materialism has brought increasing ideological heterogeneity to traditional parties. How do these developments influence the way in which parties in government respond to the demands of voters, party members and interest groups? One way to answer this question is to compare the responses of parties in government in long-established Western democracies to the responses of parties in government in newly democratized post-Communist countries. The latter parties are characterized by advanced levels of the trends Western Europe has been experiencing in the past decades.
To this end, this chapter examines distributive policy in post-unification Berlin. At the time research was conducted, the city-state was broken down into twenty-three self-governing districts, eleven in the eastern and twelve in the western half of the city. 1 During the 1990s a fiscal crisis forced Berlin's local governments to slash their budgets by almost a third. I compare how long-established western parties and newly formed eastern parties in local governments responded to competing demands for limited public monies. 2 The newly formed party caucuses in post-Wall eastern Berlin lacked loyal voters, grassroots members, and established ties to particular interest groups; furthermore legislative party groups lacked
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Publication information: Book title: How Political Parties Respond: Interest Aggregation Revisited. Contributors: Kay Lawson - Editor, Thomas Poguntke - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 105.
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