Parties at the European Level

Simon Hix

in Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780199240562
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600296 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 Parties at the European Level

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Since the 1970s, academic interest in ‘parties at the European level’ has gone full circle. The story began in the 1970s, in the wake of the decision to hold direct elections to the European Parliament (EP), with widespread expectation of the coming of transnational European parties, but in the 1980s, when it was apparent that European elections would not produce European parties, and that transnational party activity would be restricted to the ‘party groups’ in the EP, a period of scepticism towards transnational parties set in. Nevertheless, since the 1990s, with the ‘party article’ in the Treaty on European Union, the new role of ‘party leaders’ summits’ and the emergence of rival party‐political agendas for the single market, there is renewed discussion of the desirability and feasibility of Euro‐parties as a way of connecting voters’ preferences to the European Union (EU) policy process. The introduction discusses the roots of the contemporary European parties (which go back to 1972), and gives an outline of the new ‘Euro‐parties’ (Party of European Socialists (PES), European Federation of Green Parties (EFGP), European Liberal, Democratic, and Reform Party (ELDR), and European Free Alliance) and their common goals. The next three sections cover the same topics as those in the other country case studies in the book, and examine party legitimacy (legitimacy via the European Parliament, and via the European elections), party organizational strength (organizational and behavioural cohesion, finance, staffing, members, and the media), and the systemic functionality of parties (governance, interest articulation and aggregation, political participation, political recruitment, and political communication and education).

Keywords: behavioural cohesion; case studies; Europe; European elections; European Parliament; European parties; governance; interest aggregation; interest articulation; media; organizational cohesion; party finance; party functionality; party legitimacy; party members; party organization; party performance; party staffing; political communication; political education; political participation; political parties; political recruitment; political system

Chapter.  12741 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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