Mediating between the Powerless and the Powerful
It is questionable whether organized interests mediate between the powerless and the powerful. In all likelihood, this function is still better fulfilled by political parties. Indeed, this may be the real problem. Organized interests do not really mediate, even where they organize their interests more or less successfully. Most of the time, they just put pressure on parties and office-holders on behalf of their most powerful members, leaders, and functionaries. Political parties are supposed to activate themselves in order to aggregate a wider spectrum of interests, but, according to some authors, they show a declining capability to do so; for their part, organized interests usually aim selectively at special and specialized constituencies. For electoral and political, in some cases even for ideological, reasons, parties may try to organize the powerless; organized interests may prefer to organize those already enjoying some power and possessing some resources.
The powerless and the resourceless own only their vote, but they are therefore of special interest to the political parties. Only those voters, groups, and interests who are capable of mobilizing on the basis of some shared interest and goal may become the target of organized groups. Exceptionally, social movements will appear capable of drawing into the political arena even the powerless. Though more restricted, public-interest movements will enjoy some mobilizing capabilities and acquire some political influence. They will be led by individuals who start with some important resources: organizational capabilities, socio- political visibility, information, and centrality in their sphere of action. The powerless seem to be destined to remain pawns in a complex political game and to be left aside whenever it may appear appropriate to the (relatively) powerful: the organizers, the leaders.
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Publication information: Book title: Elitism, Populism, and European Politics. Contributors: Jack E. S. Hayward - Editor. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 190.
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