Access to Higher Ed
A to Z of Indian Age of Authoritarian Democracy Communication Effect Communication Skills A Vehicle On The Road Corporate Governance Investing in the Emerging Daily Politics Blog How to Find Democracy at Its Best E Governance Election of the President of Pakistan Five Tips For the Best Queen Friendship and Politics Can They Mix Government Bids Top 10 Tips Government Contract Proposal Writing Tips Handle the Argumentative Communicator and Difficult How Ancient Greek Democracy Worked How Does a Bee Become the Queen If President Obama Were My Patient Ignoring Importance Of Communication Is A Direct Importance of an Effective Community Relations Introduction and Brief History Is President Obama Channeling President Richard Issues Which Are Plaguing Local Self Government In New Jersey Monkey Cage Democracy Moving to Queens New York O P Bhatnagar A Poet Perestroika and Democracy in Russia Political Discourse and Participatory Politics The Ugliest Fascination on Earth Post capitalist Free Market Economy President Barack Obama Must President Bush and Pyramid Numerology Problems In Managing Government Purim Why Did the Womanizer Queen Bee Rearing Queen Hatshepsut Egypts Queen Queen Honeybees Are Made Not Born Queens of Amsterdam Quest for Democracy in Ethiopia Secrets to Becoming a Master Serious Defects in Modern Democracy Seven American Presidents Have Uranus Six Myths of Effective Communication The 2008 Election Results Dysfunctional The Art of Communicating The Government GIP The History of Cornish Independence The Meaning Of Queen The Pope And The President The Role of Government The Significance of the Queen The Top Five US Presidents Top 10 US Presidents True Democracy US Government Sales Marketing US Presidents That Went to Harvard Understanding the Communication Process The Key to Organisational What Is The Best Suitable What is Political Science Where Now For European Why Workplace Politics Charts the Path
5 Major Benefits of Leasing A Basic Guide To Generating Revenue Apartment Property Management Audi Business Leasing Automated Recoveries Key Can Property Management Make a Finance Difference Commercial Agents Sales Presentation Commercial Property Management Commercial Property Contract Hire Information Do You Need Property Management Does Employee Leasing Make Sense Dubai Property Management Employee Leasing Lover Employment Leasing HR Management Expediter Truck Service Financial Analysis for Workplace Lease Five Considerations of Hiring Property For Property Management Jobs Freehold And Leasehold Property Government Bidding Glossary (pt 1 2) Green Car Scheme How Property Owners Benefit How To Break Apartment Lease How To Evaluate Management Software Importance of Lease Abstraction Internet Based Lease Accounting Is Pre-Pack Administration Right for Finance Lease Administration Software Lease Management Software Lease Or Get Property Lease Your Next Car or Fleet Leasing Office Equipment Leasing Software And Fleet Management Let The Property Management Do the Job Make Finding a Property Easier Make Finding a Property Management Company Make Property Management Effective Oklahoma City Property Management Companies Property Management Company for Business Property Management Fees Explained Property Management on the Rise Renegotiating a Commercial Lease Shopping for a Property Tenants Obligations Under Commercial Property The Best Atlanta Apartments The Evolution Of Property Top 9 Questions to Ask Uncover Which Property Management Jobs Waterloo Property Management What Is Staff Leasing What Type Of Property Owners Look For What You Will Get From Property Why It's Important to Get Property Why You Need Property Managers orleans Property Management Company Why You Should Hire Manager Workflow Automation In The Leasing Empirian property management - Law
Where Now For European Political PartiesPolitical parties perform important roles in European societies. Parties are institutions in which citizens with similar political views organise, develop political programmes and actively participate in the political process. They are vital for democracy because parties offer the most clear-cut political choices that are put to the electorate. Parties are also recruitment organisations, through which parliamentarians and members of government are sourced. Even though the latter functions are important, the general effectiveness of parties is closely linked to the first characteristic: their societal embeddedness - the main channel between a party and citizens. And in this respect, political parties have been declining dramatically.
The demise of political parties is not a new phenomenon. Since at least the 1980s, parties in all established European democracies have suffered massive membership losses to the point where they only retain a very limited capacity to engage citizens. The societal anchor of political parties is seriously threatened. Vernon Bogdanor wrote in 2006 that 'the story of the rise and fall of the mass political party is one of the great unwritten books of our time'. So why do I pick this rather old problem up again in 2009? Not because I want to write the obituary of the mass political party but because we can now see where the development of political parties might lead us. This potential new future became apparent during the US Presidential campaign.
Additionally to his remarkable personal qualities, Barack Obama - during the Democratic primaries, the Presidential campaign and now even as sitting President - has been extremely successful in using new communication technologies to connect directly with citizens. Through the use of social networking tools, online video messaging and almost real time updates on what was happening on the campaign trail - and by making many of these tools available to his supporters too - he was able to create a community that was not only prepared to vote for him but willing to organise and campaign on the local level. He was able to create a political movement he can now build upon.
The construction of this movement was above all possible because new communication techniques offered a way of being actively involved in the campaign for change. But if you look behind the technical tools you notice that Barack Obama's campaign was able to recreate old - rather than create new - characteristics that traditional European parties, especially left-of-centre parties, have lost over the years: a sense of community and belonging.
Let us take the oldest social democratic party in the world as an example: the German SPD. When the party was founded in 1863, its backbone was educational leagues founded to educate workers. The cultural and community aspect was therefore not just a by-product but very much the founding principle of the party. Being a social democrat was not a question of membership in an organisation but rather a way of life. The identity of the party was reinforced by the large variety of social democratic newspapers and publications that contributed to this distinct culture. The cultural underpinnings of political parties were also evident elsewhere and it seems that it has been especially this attribute, that used to provide the closest link to society, that has declined most dramatically in recent decades.
It was argued that because of social and ideological changes in societies in the second half of the twentieth century, mass parties - rather homogenous constructs - developed into catch-all parties that attempted to integrate the diversifying political views and social backgrounds of citizens under the umbrella of the same party. Today, many parties look like what political scientists call 'professional-electoral parties'. Such parties are organisations that have a highly centralised leadership and are focussed on winning votes and offices. They have largely abandoned the cultural heritage of traditional political parties. 'Professional-electoral party' is also the closest typology for US political parties, which are practically committees to fight elections without much activity between ballots. They are very candidate centred and lack organisational leadership.
So what is new that could show the way political parties could go from here? What has changed during the Obama campaign? In a nutshell, Barack Obama has managed to recreate the community aspects of old mass parties and integrate them into a professional-electoral party. In the contemporary context, however, culture does not mean a certain way of living but rather being part of a community based on a charismatic political leader, new political ideas and a desire for grassroots activism. The creation of this new culture in the Obama campaign has only been possible by the use of new media. So after it has transformed the economy and the way we communicate with each other, is the information, communication and technology (ICT) revolution now fundamentally changing the political process too? I think there are strong arguments in favour of this and Barack Obama's success is evidence.
What does this mean for European parties? The socio-economic circumstances and ideological believes of citizens have indeed changed dramatically since the foundation of early European parties, political activism has however not disappeared. The success of single-issue movements such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International and the Globalisation critics of Attac clearly shows the enduring desire for political activism. Some of these movements have even grown into political parties in their own right, for instance the German Greens or - with a rather different political agenda - the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
All rights reserved
Copyright © 2013 Howard Samuels Center