Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective

By Martin Saiz; Hans Geser | Go to book overview

1
The Local Party as an
Object of Interdisciplinary
Comparative Study

Some Steps Toward Theoretical Integration

HANS GESER

Soziologisches Institut der Universität Zurich, Switzerland


Proposing a Preliminary Definition

Although terms like "national party" hardly need any further clarification, it is unclear which collectivities should be classified as "local political parties." On the one hand, this concept may be applied to groupings that seek formal power within communities or municipalities by nominating candidates for local public offices. Pursuing the same goals and operating within isomorphic institutional and legal settings, such groups may be expected to display similar activities and organizational characteristics as parties campaigning on the state or national level, even in cases where they look more like interest groups or voluntary associations, exist only for short periods, and have no formal links to supralocal party organizations. On the other hand, the term may also be used for precincts and other lowest-level party subunits, even when their sole function is to support supralocal election campaigns and when their territorial extension does not coincide with any political unit of the communal level. In this second sense, the concept "local" refers to the fact that the physical operating field is rather small and recruitment takes place mainly on the basis of spatial proximity.

Empirically, most countries have local parties that combine these two characteristics. Such groupings are really "Janus-faced" ( Lehmbruch 1979), because they have to combine two very different (and often

-3-

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Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Part One - Theoretical Orientation and Empirical Observations 1
  • 1 - The Local Party as an Object of Interdisciplinary Comparative Study 3
  • Notes 37
  • References 39
  • 2 - Local Political Parties in Comparative Perspective 44
  • Notes 70
  • References 71
  • Part Two - Local Political Parties in Local and National Context 75
  • Notes 98
  • References 98
  • 4 - Local Parties in England 101
  • Notes 121
  • 5 - Local Parties in the German Countryside 123
  • Notes 149
  • References 149
  • 6 - Local Parties and Electioneering in Germany 151
  • Notes 169
  • References 169
  • 7 - Do Political Parties Matter in U.S. Cities? 171
  • Notes 189
  • 8 - Forms of Patronage and Political Parties in the Italian City 191
  • Notes 210
  • References 211
  • 9 - Local Parties in Switzerland 213
  • Notes 239
  • 10 - Local Party Organizations in Denmark 242
  • Notes 269
  • References 270
  • 11 - The Local Party System in Poland 273
  • References 281
  • 12 from Communist Predominance to Multiparty System 283
  • Notes 306
  • Part Three - Conclusion 311
  • References 334
  • Appendix: - Synopsis of Hypotheses 335
  • Index 339
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