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Frédéric Sawicki

Why is the Socialist Party (Parti socialiste, PS) the first political party in France to implement a systematic and “scientific” door-to-door canvassing for the 2012 presidential campaign? What internal changes led the PS to adopt this practice? This innovation is not just technical; it is profoundly transforming the roles and activities of party members. As Rémi Lefebvre has pointed out, “rationalized canvassing prioritizes electoral efficiency. In the traditional partisan culture of the PS, campaigns were mostly about conviction and political conflict. Canvassing was a way for members to assert their identity and ‘fight’ together. It was mostly about belonging to a group of party members. Rather, scientific door-to-door canvassing is oriented by an electoral rationality.”

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Véronique Pujas

The debate in 1999 on how to finance the Italian party system centred

on two aberrations from the European norm that are linked to

the wider issue of the unfinished transition of the Italian political

system. The first of these aberrations is that the Italian political

class has yet to find a definitive remedy for the illegal funding of

the country’s political parties. Although public funding has been

envisaged since the law of 1974, subsequent legislation has

always been determined by circumstances and has never

addressed the real needs of parties. The second problem concerns

the control of three television channels by the state, on the one

hand, and of three further channels by a media entrepreneur and

political leader, Silvio Berlusconi, on the other. In the opinion of

many observers, this situation comprises an interweaving of interests

harmful to democratic pluralism.

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Alexandra Hennessy

How do political parties respond to a major economic shock? This article studies this question in the context of the eurozone crisis. Specifically, I analyze the partisan appeals made by German politicians in the run-up to the 2013 federal election in Germany. Contrary to existing models of party responsiveness, I argue that enacting quick crisis resolution mechanisms is not always the main concern of reelection-seeking politicians. Instead, officials may have incentives to deliberately withhold emergency measures in an effort to win a mandate for more comprehensive policy solutions later. The findings have implications for notions of democratic accountability.

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Nadia Urbinati

This article addresses a question that sits at the heart of democracy studies today: What do we mean when we speak about a “crisis of democracy”? The article opens with introductory clarifications on the meanings of the concept of crisis—namely its root in medicine, and on three contemporary perspectives of democracy—trilateral, deliberative, and crisis. These perspectives are analyzed using monoarchic and diarchic distinctions. Next, the article lists the main discourses about crisis in recent political theory literature. In conclusion, the article proposes an answer to the question of what we mean by crisis of democracy by arguing that it is not democracy in general but one form of democracy in particular that is in crisis—a parliamentary democracy based on the centrality of suffrage and political parties.

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Simon Tormey and Jean-Paul Gagnon

In reinterrogating core concepts from his 2015 book, The End of Representative Politics, Simon Tormey explains the nature of emergent, evanescent, and contrarian forms of political practice. He sheds light on what is driving the political disruption transpiring now through a series of engaging comments from the field on well-known initiatives like Occupy, #15M, and Zapatistas and also lesser-known experiments such as the creation of new political parties like Castelló en Moviment, among others. Postrepresentative representation, it is argued, is not an oxymoron; it, like the term antipolitical politics, is rather a provocative concept designed to capture the radically new swarming politics underway in countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Iceland. Citizens are tooling up with ICTs, and this has led to resonant political movements like #15M in Spain or Occupy more broadly. Key takeaways from this interview include the double-edged nature of representation and the fact that new forms of political representation are breaking the mould.

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Acronyms of political parties

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Introduction

Merkeldämmerung

Eric Lagenbacher

The elections for the German Bundestag on 24 September 2017 saw heavy losses for the two governing parties—the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD)—and the rise of the rightpopulist Alternative for Germany (AfD). It took almost six months for a new grand coalition to be formed in light of the extremely fragmented parliament. Despite the good economic situation and relative calm domestically and internationally, much change is occurring under the surface. Most importantly, the country is preparing for the end of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s long tenure. Who and what will come next? Can the surging AfD be contained? Will Germany step up into the leadership role for which so many have called?

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Benyamin Neuberger

This article explores the ideological underpinnings of the major Jewish political camps in Israel and the Yishuv—the left, the Orthodox, the national right, the bourgeois center—and evaluates the extent to which they are compatible with liberal democracy as commonly understood in the West. It also analyzes quasi-democratic and non-democratic aspects of older Jewish traditions based on the Torah, the Talmud, and the Halakhah. While the history of Zionism and the Zionist movement contained definite democratic components, Israel’s political system was shaped by a range of anti-democratic traditions whose resonance is still felt today.

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Vincenzo Emanuele and Nicola Maggini

The importance of the 2016 municipal elections in Italy was a consequence not only of the number and relevance of the cities involved, including Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin, but also of their timing, occurring in the middle of the 2013–2018 electoral cycle. These elections were thus perceived as a mid-term test for the national government, acquiring a relevance that went beyond their specific local context. This chapter analyzes the electoral supply, voter turnout, electoral results, and vote shifts, focusing on a synchronic and diachronic comparison of the performance of the candidates and the parties. The evidence presented shows that despite winning the plurality of municipalities, the Democratic Party clearly paid the cost of ruling at the national level. The number of its mayors was halved, and it was defeated in Rome and Turin by the Five Star Movement, the true winner of these elections.

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Two of the Same Kind?

The Rise of the AfD and its Implications for the CDU/CSU

Matthias Dilling

In 2017, the AfD became the first party explicitly positioned to the right of the CDU/CSU to enter the Bundestag since 1957. As the AfD was founded by former CDU members and rose against the backdrop of Merkel’s European and refugee policies, the AfD may appear primarily to threaten the CDU/CSU. I argue that this view is overly simplistic. Analyzing the AfD’s platform, survey data, and factionalism, I find: (1) while the AfD started as a conservative challenger to the Christian Democrats, it moved away from this platform toward becoming a populist radical right party; (2) this transformation is reflected in its vote base, which includes characteristics associated with social conservatism but also encompasses nativist, populist, and even leftwing elements; (3) the AfD has so far been unable to integrate these different positions and stop forces pushing it away from being an option for discontented Christian Democrats.