Why are Political Parties in Decline?

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To characterise the notion of political parties, Rod Hague and Martin Harrop choose to use the definition submitted by Giovanni Sartori, which says that a political party concerns ‘any political group identified by an official label that presents elections, and is capable of placing through elections candidates for public office’ (1976, p. 63, cited in Hague and Harrop, 2010, p. 203). Andrew Heywood defines it as ‘groups of people organised to gain formal representation or win government power’, ‘united by shared political preferences and a general ideological identity’, which function is to ‘filling the political office and the wielding of government power’ (2007, pp. 272, 275 and 455). So they all agree that parties are unified, structured and ideological groups, which aim to rise to power and govern states. Also it seems that it is the way they are perceived nowadays by the general opinion, thus it is based on theses definitions that they will be considered in this essay.
Heywood reminds us that parties are quite a recent innovation; indeed they first appeared at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the United-Sates of America with the creation of the Federalist and the Democratic-Republican parties (2007, p. 273). And yet it can be observed that parties are now omnipresent, even in dictatorships where they exist as single-parties state. Heywood points out that in 1950 political parties were used to administer 80% of states in the world but that number decreased with the rise of military regimes in the developing world in the 1960s. However they increased anew with the upgrade of democracy that marked the 1980s and 1990s in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as former communist states (Heywood, 2007, pp. 271-272). ...

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...e: Palgrave MacMillan.
• Heywood, A. (2007), Politics. 3rd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
• Stoker, G. (2006), Why Politics Matters: Making Democracy work. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
• Stoker, G. (2006), ‘Explaining Political Disenchantment: Finding Pathways to Democratic Renewal’, The Political Quarterly, 77 (2), April-June 2006 [Online]. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-923X.2006.00761.x/abstract;jsessionid=9098426F8D11C447FFF8A9A485132C3A.f04t02?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false (Accessed: 27th February 2014)
• Whiteley, F. P. (2010), ‘Is the party over? The decline of party activism and membership across the democratic world’, Political Parties, 17 (1), pp. 21-44, Sage Journals January 2011 [Online]. Available at: http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/17/1/21.full.pdf+html (Accessed: 27th February 2014)

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