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Piero Ignazi, "The Crisis of Parties and the Rise of New Political Parties," Party Politics, 2 (October 1996), 569-585.

First Paragraph:
Is there a crisis of party in the 1990s? As Peter Mair underlined a decade ago, parties are facing a challenge per se,which invests their 'role for the expression of interest, as "active intermediaries" between the citizen and the government' (Mair, 1984:171). However, the 'vulnerability ' of parties has been related by the same author more to organizational backwardness and weakness (with a close association between the two but no causal link)rather than to a decline in the fulfilment of specific functions (Mair, 1989:177ff). In order to investigate the existence of a crisis of parties it is useful to distinguish between structural-organizational factors on one side, and factors involving the functions performed by the party on the other side. In organizational terms, the most direct indicator of crisis refers to the number of party members. The mass party model lies behind this approach: as in pre-modern military strategy, strength lies in numbers. In a way this is true. A successful party collects more members, a defeated one loses members. The cases where the leadership adopt a precise strategy to reduce the membership size are very rare and mainly limited to parties with revolutionary aims: the French communist party in the late 1940s and early 1950s (Lazar, 1992) is a case in point. Even so,such a strategy indicates a high degree of self-confidence and control of the party organization by the dominant coalition.

Figures and Tables:
None.

Last Paragraph:
The same societal changes have produced both left-libertarian parties and extreme right parties. The extreme right parties born in the 1980s denied any clear reference to fascism and any linkage with the traditional neofascist parties: they attained a certain success because, instead of reviving the fascist mythology, either they represented issues that were not treated by the traditional parties or they offered a different, more radical answer to old issues. A new type of an old political family thus entered the European party system: the postindustrial extreme right party. The answer to postmaterialism has taken an unforeseen direction.