Elin Haugsgjerd Allern and
Tim Bale, "Conclusion: Qualifying the common wisdom,"
Party Politics, 18 (January, 2012), 99-106.
[Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol18/issue1/
It is widely agreed that the relationships between parties
and interest groups help shape the nature of democratic
governance. Those relationships are also a key aspect in the
literature on the development of party organization and are
an integral part of what are widely seen as the two most
influential ideas about political parties to have been
produced in the past fifty years--Kirchheimer's 'catch-all
thesis' and the 'cartel party thesis' developed by Katz and
- Figures and
Developments that, in theory, make parties independent of
civil society do not seem to have weakened, nor are they
currently weakening, party-group links across the board.
Here we have not discussed what, if anything, this tells us
about the extent to which party systems are, in fact, based
on tacit inter-party collusion. Indeed, two of the countries
studied are not cases of the cartel thesis as such. But even
if established parties in democratic systems do 'limit'
party competition institutionally and ideologically, the
question arises as to whether they are still largely
dependent on interest groups to seek power successfully or
whether they feel the need to keep or (as Yishai [2001:
670-1] suggests) to re-incorporate society into,
politics? Today's volatile voter--and therefore stable
access to public revenues--is hard to lock in. Through
interest groups, parties may still mobilize their
constituencies, seek regular financial support and get
access to valuable political information. The key question
to explore in future research is perhaps not whether but how
parties and interest groups are linked--or interact--as
organizations in contemporary democracies?