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Richard S. Katz and Peter Mair, "Parties, interest groups and cartels: A comment," Party Politics, 18 (January, 2012), 107-111. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
As we have recently observed (Katz and Mair, 2009), the cartel party thesis emerged inductively from our research concerning the evolution of party organizations in established democracies with relatively stable party systems. The newer democracies of Portugal and Spain that are considered in this special issue were not included in our work, and while the EU party federations were included, they did not really fall within the ambit of the cartel party thesis. Moreover, while we were concerned with the relationships between parties and interest groups, and certainly made a number of suggestions about the ways in which those relationships had and would evolve, the original research focused only on the kinds of ancillary groups that were effectively incorporated within the wider mass party organizational network. It is, thus, extremely interesting for us to see how our work has been interpreted, adapted, extended and tested beyond the range of cases and concerns from which it was derived. And it is, of course, highly gratifying to be invited to comment on this illuminating set of articles.

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Last Paragraph:
One of the recurring problems in comparative politics is determining the extent to which models derived in one setting can be transferred directly to other settings. The original cartel party thesis was meant to account for developments that were beginning to be observed in the established democracies of western Europe in the 1990s. Many of the contemporary conditions that appeared to be driving those developments are to be found in other places, but of course preceded by quite different historical trajectories. The articles in this issue provide an important window on the question of how much historical processes can be compressed, or indeed of whether institutions and practices like the cartel party can be adopted (or to what extent they can be adapted) to new settings, irrespective of historical differences.

Last updated December 2011