Political Parties: Old Concepts and New Challenges

By Richard Gunther; José Ramón Montero et al. | Go to book overview

5 The Ascendancy of the Party in Public Office: Party Organizational Change in Twentieth-Century Democracies

Richard S. Katz Peter Mair

This chapter is concerned with the development of party organizations in twentieth-century democracies, and deals specifically with the shifting balance of power between what we have earlier (Katz and Mair 1993) termed the three organizational 'faces' of party: the party on the ground, the party in central office, and the party in public office. We evaluate the changing balance among these three faces in the context of four models of party organization: the cadre (or elite) party, which was the dominant form of party organization prior to mass suffrage; the mass party, which emerged with, or in anticipation of and to militate for, mass suffrage, and which was widely regarded, particularly in Europe, as the 'normal' or 'ideal' form of party organization for most of the twentieth century; the catch-all party, development towards which was first commented upon in the literature in the 1960s (Kirchheimer 1966), and which has come to rival the mass party not only in prominence (which some have regarded as a bad thing), but also in the affections of many analysts, particularly in North America; and finally, what we have called the cartel party (Katz and Mair 1995 ; Katz and Mair 1996), a new and emerging model of party organization which we believe to be increasingly evident among the established democracies in recent years. In tracing the shifting balance of power among the three faces and across the four models of party organization, we contend that the most recent stage of development has resulted in the ascendancy of the party in public office, and the concomitant 'relegation' or subordination of the other two faces. Moreover, while parties on the ground sometimes continue to flourish, we suggest that the ostensible empowerment of party memberships, or even their greater autonomy, may nevertheless be compatible with an increased privileging of the party in public office. Finally, we also briefly discuss both the sources and implications of party organizational change, suggesting an association

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