The Ascendancy of the Party in Public Office: Party Organizational Change in Twentieth‐Century Democracies

Richard S. Katz and Peter Mair

in Political Parties

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

Series: Comparative Politics

 The Ascendancy of the Party in Public Office: Party Organizational Change in Twentieth‐Century Democracies

Show Summary Details


Concerned with the development of party organizations in twentieth‐century democracies, and deals specifically with the shifting balance of power between what has earlier been termed the three organizational ‘faces’ of party: the party on the ground, the party in central office, and the party in public office. An evaluation is made of the changing balance among these three faces in the context of four models of party organization: the cadre (or elite) party, which was the dominant form of party organization prior to mass suffrage; the mass party, which emerged with, or in anticipation of and to militate for, mass suffrage, and which was widely regarded, particularly in Europe, as the ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ form of party organization for most of the twentieth century; the catch‐all party, development towards which was first commented upon in the literature in the 1960s, and which has come to rival the mass party not only in prominence but also in the affections of many analysts; and finally, what is called here the cartel party, a new and emerging model of party organization, which Katz and Mair believe to be increasingly evident among established democracies in recent years. In tracing the shifting balance of power among the three faces and across the four models of party organization, the authors contend that the most recent stage of development has resulted in the ascendancy of the party in public office, and the concomitant ‘relegation’ or subordination of the other two faces. Moreover, while parties on the ground sometimes continue to flourish, they suggest that the ostensible empowerment of party memberships, or even their greater autonomy, may nevertheless, be compatible with an increased privileging of the party in public office. Finally, both the sources and implications of party organizational change are briefly discussed, and it is suggested that there is an association between the most recent shifts in the internal balance of intra‐party power, on the one hand, and the apparent growth in popular feelings of alienation from parties, on the other.

Keywords: cadre party; cartel party; catch‐all party; democracy; elite party; Europe; mass party; models of party organization; organizational faces of the party; party in central office; party in public office; party memberships; party models; party on the ground; party organization; political parties

Chapter.  11591 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.