Still the Age of Catch‐Allism? Volksparteien and Parteienstaat in Crisis and Re‐equilibration

Hans‐Jürgen Puhle

in Political Parties

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780199246748
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599385 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 Still the Age of Catch‐Allism? Volksparteien and Parteienstaat in Crisis and Re‐equilibration

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Experience of modern political parties during the last fifty years can be briefly summarized under two headlines: the rise of the catch‐all party (Volksparteien) after the Second World War (earlier in the US), and the ‘crisis’ and restructuring of the catch‐all parties under profound challenges and severe ‘stress’ since the late 1970s. Both processes have been interrelated as it often seems that the ‘crisis’ has been due in part to a number of inherent characteristics and weaknesses of catch‐all parties, and that the ‘pure type’ of catch‐all party has been somewhat transitory in structure despite its apparent longevity. The analysis presented in this chapter of the character and the potential outcome of the perceived present ‘crisis’ begins with a description of the principal dimensions of the problem at hand. The next section, ‘Catch‐all parties and the Parteienstaat’ discusses the definition, characteristics, constellations, and the historical context and organizational modernization of the catch‐all party, which cannot be separated from the respective constellations of party systems and from the emergence of the European invention of the party state (Parteienstaat). The last main section of the chapter looks at the various symptoms of the perceived crisis of the catch‐all party, and the implications of the ‘third wave’ of politico‐organizational modernization of the final decades of the twentieth century, which is shown to have led to tentative new types of party, including numerous ‘catch‐all plus’ phenomena and a search for new terms to describe a ‘fourth’ type of party.

Keywords: catch‐all party; crisis of the catch‐all party; history; new types of party; organizational modernization; party crisis; party modernization; party organization; party state; political parties

Chapter.  12294 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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