Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 205660
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Party democracy in a new light

Research provides an empirical and theoretical re-conceptualization of political parties and party democracy.
Party democracy in a new light
In modern democracies, the links between political parties and society have deteriorated. This is a challenge to democratic legitimacy and has caused a more pronounced disengagement of citizens from conventional party politics.

PARTYDEMOCRACY (Re-conceptualizing party democracy) is an EU-funded project that aimed to rethink parties in terms of their ties with the state and party democracy, as based on a public functions rather than private associations. Researchers focussed on the management of parties by the state through public law and regulation. The changing conceptions of parties and democracy through a focus on party law such as the nature and intensity of the legal regulation of parties in post-war Europe was examined. The nature and intensity of party regulation is significant in order to study the bonds between parties and the state. These bonds have become progressively more prominent when facing the deterioration of their linkages with society and a weakening of their representative capacity.

It is important to question whether parties have been transformed from agents of society to agents of the state as well as if the current dominant idea of party democracy is based on the notion of parties as public functions. The work also explored what motivates the formal recognition of political parties and examined different forms of party regulation given the normative understanding of party democracy.

All of the democratic states in Europe were included. Results showed that there are major differences regarding the nature and intensity of party regulation between established and more recently created democracies. This is also the case between western European and eastern European democracies, and especially between countries with an incessant democratic history and those with an intermittent democratic experience. Given their institutional relevance as key players of the political system with a unique position of state support, political parties have become fused into the public realm.

With the results of this study, the existing gap between the empirical study of parties and normative democracy theory is more likely to be bridged. Furthermore, the disciplines of political science and constitutional and public law can be more easily linked.

Related information


Political parties, party democracy, public law, normative democracy theory
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