Parties in Contemporary Democracies: Problems and Paradoxes

Juan J. Linz

in Political Parties

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

Series: Comparative Politics

 Parties in Contemporary Democracies: Problems and Paradoxes

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Juan Linz examines the same theme of anti‐party sentiments among citizens in contemporary democracies as did the previous chapter, but from an entirely different perspective. He starts by looking at the fundamental differences between the roles played by parties in presidential and parliamentary democracies, and notes that each type of party system also generates different critiques of parties. Notwithstanding, these differences among party systems and between presidential and parliamentary democracies, Linz notes that parties everywhere have become the focus of a remarkably similar litany of complaints and criticisms, and asks to what extent these represent expressions of reasoned concerns over the shortcomings of the actual performance of parties, and conversely, to what extent they reflect ambiguous, confusing, or even self‐contradictory evaluations by citizens based upon unreasonable expectations or a lack of understanding of the complexities and cross‐pressures that parties are subjected to in performing their many roles in democratic politics. On the basis of survey data from Spain and Latin America, he suggests that the increase in negative attitudes towards political parties maybe less attributable to the behaviour of parties themselves than it is to inconsistencies or outright contradictions among relevant beliefs held by citizens, to unrealistic expectations concerning the extent to which parties can achieve a series of demanding objectives, or to the increasing number of the functions that parties must play in representative democracies. The main sections of the chapter are: Attitudes towards parties: paradoxes, contradictions, and ambiguities; Personalization of politics and professionalization of politics; Parties, money, and party democracy; and Distrust of parties and the legitimacy of democracy.

Keywords: anti‐party attitudes; antipartyism; citizens’ beliefs; citizens’ unrealistic expectations; democracies; distrust of parties; Latin America; legitimacy of democracy; money; parliamentary democracies; party democracy; party functions; party performance; personalization of politics; political parties; presidential democracies; professionalization of politics; Spain

Chapter.  12453 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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