Parties without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies

By Russell J. Dalton; Martin P. Wattenberg | Go to book overview

5 Parties Without Members?

Party Organization in a Changing Electoral Environment

Susan E. Scarrow

The mass party was an enduring and influential invention of the late nineteenth century, but by the end of the twentieth century it seemed like an increasingly imperilled form. As Maurice Duverger's (1963) classic portrayal tells us, in many countries political life was once transformed by the creation of such parties. They constructed nationally networked membership associations which cultivated political identities and mobilized newly enfranchised populations. This organizational style originally most appealed to the left, but the mass party's successful techniques soon were emulated and adapted by parties across the political spectrum. Because mass parties emphasized enrolment and political education, and because they encouraged citizens to extend their political involvement beyond merely voting, they broadened the realm of citizen politics and provided concrete links between politicians and those they claimed to represent.

Although Duverger's account of mass parties has been widely accepted as a description of political developments during the first half of the twentieth century, other scholars soon questioned Duverger's assessment that the mass party was becoming the dominant organizational form. As early as the 1960s, Otto Kirchheimer (1966) and Leon Epstein (1980) argued that the popularity of this organizing style had begun to wane, sidelined by changes in society and technology. Subsequent developments have only strengthened the case against Duverger's prediction of mass party dominance. They have not, however, settled the question of how party organizations will change, and in particular, of how parties that once pursued large enrolments will treat the remnants of these organizations. At the extreme, some predict an 'Americanization' of party life that will spell the

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Parties without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Comparative Politics ii
  • Parties Without Partisans iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Figures ix
  • List of Tables x
  • Notes on Contributors xii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I Parties in the Electorate 17
  • 2 the Decline of Party Identifications 19
  • Appendix 62
  • 4 the Decline of Party Mobilization 64
  • Part II Parties as Political Organizations 77
  • 5 Parties Without Members? 79
  • Quantitative Changes in the Resourcing of West European Political Parties 126
  • Appendix Leadership Selectorate Details, by Party 150
  • Part III Parties in Government 155
  • 8 Parties in Legislatures: 157
  • 9 Parties at the Core of Government 180
  • Appendix 204
  • 11 on the Primacy of Party in Government 238
  • Conclusion 259
  • Appendix 285
  • References 286
  • Index 311
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