Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective

By Martin Saiz; Hans Geser | Go to book overview

communal integration because they cannot find access to the more exclusive informal circles. Whenever national parties are eager to gain an extensive foothold on the community level, the growth of local party networks may well gain its own momentum independent of any developments on the individual level. This is vividly illustrated by Denmark, where communal party groupings continued to proliferate during the 1970s and 1980s, while the number of adherents (and available candidates) was sharply shrinking (Chapter 10).

However, several studies in this book agree on the point that local parties are not very active in channeling individual political demands and grievances into the communal political system, because most inhabitants prefer to contact other role incumbents or persons outside the formal political system. This fact applies, at least, to Denmark (Chapter 10), Germany (Chapter 5), and Italy (Chapter 8). In addition, their role in supporting supralocal election campaigns is at the least questionable, because in most cases, they rely on minimal volunteer activity and are quite reluctant to adapt their activities optimally to their surrounding conditions. Thus, it may be doubted whether local parties are absolutely irreplaceable components of national party organizations or are beneficial to community politics. But the fact that they are functioning reasonably well within both frameworks may nevertheless guarantee their long-term survival and contribute to their endogenous revival in the post-Socialist world.


Notes
1.
In Switzerland, for example, it has been found that local party membership has remained quite stable in a period where considerable "dealignments" have taken place in the general electorate (see Geser 1991a).
2.
On the methodological level, this implies that no realistic assessment of local party activity is possible on the basis of formal processes (e.g., frequencies of official meetings) alone, because much less visible (and highly irregular) kinds of informal social communications and interactions have to be included in the analysis.
3.
According to Prewitt, about 40 percent of all citizens are represented in community politics. Although those with more income and education are still over- represented, this is quite a large segment compared with the highly elitist recruitment practices on the state and national level. This rather "plebiscitarian" character of community politics may be reinforced by the fact that most higher- class citizens show little interest because they focus their political interest on supralocal levels ( Prewitt 1970, 33ff.).
4.
See also Nassmacher and Rudzio ( 1978), 138ff.
5.
This is surely the case in Switzerland , where formal political federalism is combined with many subcultural territorial divisions on the basis of language, religion, divergent historical traditions, and so forth (see Ladner, Chapter 9).

-37-

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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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