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R. Kenneth Carty, "Parties as Franchise Systems: The Stratarchical Organizational Imperative," Party Politics, 10 (January, 2004), 5-24.

First Paragraph:
How do modern parties organize? This simple question has become one of the important puzzles for students of democratic politics. Recent analyses point to a series of changes that appear to characterize the parties of the classic Western systems. The puzzle is that the most dramatic of these changes point in contradictory directions. Thus, most parties in developed systems are facing sharply declining memberships while individual party members are winning increased decision-making power, especially on crucial personnel choices. At the same time, party leaders, especially those of the party in public office, have enhanced their power and autonomy though only by increasing their dependence on outside professionals such as pollsters and media experts. Peter Mair (1994: 16) recognized the 'apparent paradox' in these developments when he asked 'How can parties democratize while at the same time affording more autonomy and power to the party in public office?'

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Last Paragraph:
The strength of the franchise model is that it recognizes that the stratarchical impulses of polities work unevenly over space and time and it provides a framework for ordering very diverse organizational solutions to the party-building challenges that politicians face. It suggests that the primary analytic task is to identify the fundamental organizational bargain that underpins and regulates the relationships among the various units of working parties &endash; a return to a concern for the formal and informal arrangements that govern the behaviours of what Duverger (1964: 17) called the 'basic elements' of party organizations. A comparison of party 'franchise contracts' ought to provide a more unambiguous basis for developing typologies of party organization and activity than those that rely on differing programmatic appeals, social bases or origins in particular historical moments. Tracking changes in franchise structures over time will help identify just how, and how much, party organizations have changed and evolved in response to changes in their institutional and/or socio-political environments. Unlocking the puzzle of party organization is a central issue for understanding democratic politics and franchise models provide an important key to the puzzle.