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Lauri Karvonen, "Legislation On Political Parties: A Global Comparison," Party Politics, 13 (July 2007), 437-455.

First paragraph:
It is a common assumption that the distinction between state and society is clearer in democratic than in non-democratic countries. In democratic states, public power is checked by legal regulation and established custom: 'there shall be no public authority outside the Law'. Detailed legislation normally defines the spheres of competence between various state organs and public bodies, and the realm of public power as opposed to the private sphere of life is clearly demarcated. Civil society based on free exchange between individual citizens and various communities should not normally be the object of government interference. Citizens should have an unmitigated right to enter into contractual and other relationships with each other, and to form citizens' associations without the involvement of public authorities. In guaranteeing fundamental individual and collective rights, the state creates the conditions necessary for the free activity of its citizens - activity, however, that must be allowed to take place without undue governmental interference. In non-democratic states, by contrast, government power is frequently extended to large parts of civil society. Where the borderline between state and society has vanished altogether, a totalitarian order has been established (Linz, 2000: 66).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Party laws among the world's states according to three time periods (years of enactment)
Table 2. Party laws among the world's states according to democratic status
Table 3. Restrictions on parties
Table 4. Provisions concerning parties as organizations
Table 5. Sanctions against parties
Table 6. Summary of results: the relative frequency of strict or detailed provisions in party laws
Appendix. Details on the Laws Included in the Empirical Analysis

Last Paragraph:
The present analysis has not concerned the effects of PLs, but it certainly does not gainsay Mu.ller's assessment. In stable democracies, one would expect party legislation to be a means of preserving the status quo rather than an instrument of change. A main reason must be that those who control the legislation - the existing parties - have a common interest in resisting structural change. For this reason, these laws may prove to be of a much greater longevity than in countries where PLs still reflect fundamental democratic problems.

last updated June 2007