of most democratic nations and because of the continuing need to organize when running for office. In turn, the presence of parties can sustain and bolster the social movements that support them long after "objective" economic relations have shifted. Class-based politics may remain salient because political parties are necessary for the proper functioning of the political system and because working-class parties have a firm grasp on the institutional dimensions of politics.
Although different versions of the present and the future can be disputed, it is also important to state that the findings show that a future without strong parties is probably less desirable than a future with them. The fact that stronger parties correlate with older, less-educated and less- wealthy populations in larger cities perhaps shows that power can gravitate toward populations that have little else in the way of political power. The lack of a relationship between hierarchy and strong parties may show the previous leveling effects of working-class parties. At the same time, there is little evidence that strong parties are unresponsive to groups or citizens at the local level. Contrary to the assumptions of much of the existing literature, parties are well integrated into the local political systems and collaborate with local groups. Thus, in spite of the dramatic changes affecting Western societies in the last quarter of the twentieth century, parties still perform the essential democratic functions of representation and aggregating interests.