Parties have often been the central intermediaries of politics, gathering and presenting the main actors and the main programs, while linking individual citizens with governmental institutions, social forces with public policy. As a result, a focus on partisanship brings many of the specific contestants, policies, conflicts, and coalitions:-the guts of politics as it is normally understood:-back into view. Byron E. Shafer heads a distinguished team of expert commentators who focus, in parallel chapters, on the dramatic dimensions of political change over the years 1946-1996.
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