Party Organization, Party Democracy, and the Emergence of the Cartel Party (With Richard S. Katz)

Peter Mair

in Party System Change

Published in print October 1998 | ISBN: 9780198295495
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599804 | DOI:
 Party Organization, Party Democracy, and the Emergence of the Cartel Party (With Richard S. Katz)

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This is the first of two chapters on political party organizations and party systems, and discusses party organization, party democracy, and the emergence of the cartel party. It notes that a common thread running through the literature on political parties has been the view that they are to be classified and understood on the basis of their relationship with civil society, and that this has had two implications: a tendency to set up the mass party model as the standard against which everything should be judged, and an undervaluation of the extent to which differences between parties may also be understood by reference to their relations with the state. The chapter contends that both these implications are ill-founded, arguing that the mass party model is tied to a conception of democracy and to a particular, and now dated, ideal of social structure, neither of which is characteristic of postindustrial societies. Moreover, the mass party model implies a linear process of party development that suggests a suspect end-point from which the only options are stability or decay, while it can in fact be argued that the development of parties in western democracies has been reflective of a dialectical process in which each new party type generates a reaction which stimulates further development, thus leading to yet another new party type, and so on. The factors that facilitate this dialectic are not derived solely from changes in civil society, but also from changes in the relations between parties and the state. In particular, it can be argued that there has been a tendency in recent years towards an ever closer symbiosis between parties and the state, and that this then sets the stage for the emergence of a new party type, ‘the cartel party’, which, like previous party types, implies a particular conception of democracy, stimulates further reactions and sows the seeds for yet further development. The discussion is presented in seven sections: (1) The Mass Party and the Catch-All Party; (2) Stages of Party Development; (3) Parties and the State; (4) The Emergence of the Cartel Party; (5) The Characteristics of the Cartel Party; (6) Democracy and the Cartel Party; and (7) Challenges to the Cartel Party.

Keywords: cartel party; civil society; democracy; dialectical process; mass party model; new parties; party democracy; party development; party organization; party organizations; party systems; political parties; postindustrial societies; relations with civil society; relations with the state; social structure; state; western Europe; western party systems

Chapter.  10182 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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