Journal Article

The dissolution of political parties: The problem of internal democracy

Yigal Mersel

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 4, issue 1, pages 84-113
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI:
The dissolution of political parties: The problem of internal democracy

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  • Constitutional and Administrative Law
  • UK Politics


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In recent years, various democracies have faced the problem of nondemocratic political parties. In response, some have adopted the practice of the party ban. The main focus in existing jurisprudence has been on the external activities of these parties. In determining whether a political party is nondemocratic, attention has centered on the party's goals and practices. This judicial practice, manifest in different European constitutional courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights, is problematic. It often ignores an essential element in political parties, namely, their internal structures. This paper argues that political parties must be democratic not only externally, in their goals, but also democratic internally, in their organizational practices. The very interdependence between political parties and democracies should promote the parties' adherence not only to democratic goals and activities but also to democratic internal structures. This paper further argues that such internal democracy must be mandatory, and that, in rare cases, there is valid justification for banning political parties that lack internal democracy.

Journal Article.  14552 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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