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Power, accountability and democracy

Does European integration contribute to, or even accelerate, the erosion of intra-party democracy? This book is about improving our understanding of political parties as democratic organisations in the context of multi-level governance. It analyses the impact of European Union (EU) membership on power dynamics, focusing on the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party (PS), and the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). The purpose of this book is to investigate who within the three parties determines EU policies and selects EU specialists, such as the candidates for European parliamentary elections and EU spokespersons.

The book utilises a principal-agent framework to investigate the delegation of power inside the three parties across multiple levels and faces. It draws on over 65 original interviews with EU experts from the three national parties and the Party of European Socialists (PES) and an e-mail questionnaire. This book reveals that European policy has largely remained in the hands of the party leadership. Its findings suggest that the party grassroots are interested in EU affairs, but that interest rarely translates into influence, as information asymmetry between the grassroots and the party leadership makes it very difficult for local activists to scrutinise elected politicians and to come up with their own policy proposals. As regards the selection of EU specialists, such as candidates for the European parliamentary elections, this book highlights that the parties’ processes are highly political, often informal, and in some cases, undemocratic.

Prisoners of the past

This book examines the impact that nostalgia has had on the Labour Party’s political development since 1951. In contrast to existing studies that have emphasised the role played by modernity, it argues that nostalgia has defined Labour’s identity and determined the party’s trajectory over time. It outlines how Labour, at both an elite and a grassroots level, has been and remains heavily influenced by a nostalgic commitment to an era of heroic male industrial working-class struggle. This commitment has hindered policy discussion, determined the form that the modernisation process has taken and shaped internal conflict and cohesion. More broadly, Labour’s emotional attachment to the past has made it difficult for the party to adjust to the socioeconomic changes that have taken place in Britain. In short, nostalgia has frequently left the party out of touch with the modern world. In this way, this book offers an assessment of Labour’s failures to adapt to the changing nature and demands of post-war Britain.

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Bill Jones

The role of political parties Political parties are such familiar features of political life that we sometimes fail to appreciate the valuable roles they play in participative democracy. This is especially the case in a modern culture which tends to attribute only malign motives to politicians. In reality, parties are vital to our way of life, for reasons which include the following. Harmonising differing viewpoints Given that most sections of society seek to advance the interests of their group, there is a vast array of related viewpoints reflecting

in British politics today
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Elisabeth Carter

2 Party ideology Parties of the extreme right are to some extent ‘masters of their own success’. That is, regardless of the political environment in which they operate and regardless of the institutional contexts within which they find themselves, their electoral success will depend, in part, on the ideology they espouse and the policies they put forward, and on the way in which they are organized and led. This chapter focuses on the first of these party-centric factors, and examines the extent to which the ideologies of the extreme right parties influence their

in The extreme right in Western Europe
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Katharine Dommett

The last three chapters have shown that citizens have multifaceted desires for representation, participation and governance. When asking ‘what do people want from political parties?’, an analysis of democratic linkage shows that people have many desires that are often not realised. Before turning to consider the implications of these ideas, in this chapter I engage with a second possible influence on citizens’ views of parties, exploring the idea of political conduct. Speaking to a number of findings discussed so far, this chapter explores the

in The reimagined party
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Elisabeth Carter

4 Party competition In its bid to account for the varying levels of electoral success of the parties of the extreme right across Western Europe, this book has so far examined the influence of party-centric factors. It has considered the impact of different types of extreme right party ideology on the right-wing extremist party vote and has also investigated the effects of party organization and leadership. In this chapter, the book turns to exploring the influence of contextual factors on the success of the right-wing extremist parties, and introduces another

in The extreme right in Western Europe
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Duncan Watts

Chap 8 28/8/03 1:13 pm Page 178 Political parties 8 Political parties are organisations of broadly like-minded men and women which seek to win power in elections in order that they can then assume responsibility for controlling the apparatus of government. Unlike interest groups, which seek merely to influence the government, serious parties aims to secure the levers of power. In this chapter, we examine their relevance in Britain and America. The emphasis is on the competition between the two main parties in either country for the control of public offices

in Understanding US/UK government and politics
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Bernadette C. Hayes
Ian McAllister

Political parties reflect the societies within which they operate. Competition between parties – in pursuit of resources, power and, occasionally, prestige – is very much based on the competition that occurs between the different social groups that exist within a society. In the new European democracies of the 1920s, the contemporary party systems that emerged were

in Conflict to peace
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Ambitious architecture, flawed rules
David Hine
Gillian Peele

11 Party funding: ambitious architecture, flawed rules Introduction: public interest beyond public office-holders Parties present special problems for ethics regulators. Parties are not official public institutions, so party office-holders are not technically public office-holders. Yet there is clearly a public interest in what they do, how they are organised and how they raise money. In modern democracies there is usually at least some light legal regulation of parties, but it mainly concerns public registration and transparency about who is legally responsible

in The regulation of standards in British public life
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Paolo Dardanelli

Political parties were the most important elite actors in the politics of Scottish self-government. Where parties stood on the spectrum of constitutional options, what perceptions they had of the European dimension and how they played their strategies are crucial factors in assessing their impact on the distribution of preferences at public opinion level. In this chapter I analyse such factors in relation to the Scottish National party (SNP), the Labour party and the Conservative party, the three main actors of the Scottish party system

in Between two Unions