Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective

By Martin Saiz; Hans Geser | Go to book overview
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2
Local Political Parties in
Comparative Perspective

PETER JOHN
Keele University, United Kingdom
MARTIN SAIZ
University of Notre Dame, United States

Editors' note: John and Saiz use features of local communities, conceived as variables, to explain variance in local party organizational strength and responsiveness to local groups and constituents. Using statistical methods and data from the Fiscal Austerity and Urban Innovation Project (FAUI), they confirm many of the introductory chapter's theoretical statements. For example, they confirm that community size is strongly related to local party organizational strength, with more populous communities having larger, more professionalized party systems. Local parties are weakest where populations are younger and more educated, a finding that signals a shift away from traditional class-based politics preoccupied with leveling material inequalities. John and Saiz find that with the notable exception of France, local party strength is positively and significantly correlated with responsiveness to local groups and constituents, implying close relationships among local political intermediaries.

In contrast to the study of national political systems, research on local political parties rarely considers them to be an important factor in explaining the character of urban politics. Harold Wolman and Michael Goldsmith ( 1992), for example, devote only four pages of their comparative book on U.K. and U.S. urban politics to the subject; and Ed Page's ( 1991) impressive survey and analysis of European localism and centralism hardly mentions political parties. The key research foci in urban political science, and those that have generated substantial national and crossnational research programs, are political leaders, elected representatives,

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