Our deepest debt of gratitude is owed to the Center for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (CEACS) of the Instituto Juan March of Madrid. The CEACS is a unique and outstanding institution dedicated primarily to the postgraduate education of young Spanish social scientists. Over the course of the past decade, it has become an important point of reference for the international social science community. Without its support, this book would not have been possible. In the spring of 1994, the Steering Committee of the CEACS proposed the convening of a major international conference dedicated to the systematic exploration of political parties by many of the world's leading experts in this field. This meeting, held between 15 and 17 December 1994, brought together forty prominent scholars from eleven countries. The wonderful staff and facilities of the CEACS helped make it possible for our discussions of political parties, party organizations, party elites, party linkages, and party images to take place within an extremely pleasant and congenial atmosphere. CEACS personnel also provided invaluable assistance during the editing and preparation of this manuscript.
Among those at the Instituto Juan March who are deserving of special praise are José Luis Yuste, its Managing Director, whose support for this multi-year project made it possible; José María Maravall, now the Academic Director of the CEACS; and Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, who served as its Secretary General at the time of the conference, and was an active and valuable collaborator in this project during the first several years of work on the manuscript. His successor, Javier Gomá, has also helped to bring this project to fruition. Andrew Richards was an excellent collaborator in the selection and revision of those conference papers that ultimately appeared in this volume: his comments, criticisms, and suggestions were invaluable. Ignacio Molina also helped with the revision of some chapters, and Martha Peach served as an inexhaustible source of suggestions and insights, and made available the enormous resources of the excellent CEACS library which she directs. Luis Díaz and Magdalena Nebreda also provided considerable assistance. But the person who devoted the most time and effort to this enormous project was Jackie de la Fuente, who laboured through many revisions of these manuscripts over the years with a smile, a good sense of humour, and a tireless willingness to help.
The editors would like to thank the contributors to this volume, not only for the high quality of their respective chapters, but also for their patience