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Zsolt Enyedi, "The discreet charm of political parties," Party Politics, 20 (March 2014), 194-204. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue2/ ]

First paragraph:
Our way of thinking about the role of parties after the collapse of the Berlin Wall is shaped primarily by the dealignment model and by the cartel party theory. Both point towards the increasing redundancy of party politics. In this article, I identify the principal underlying arguments of the party decline thesis, discuss several of its conceptual ambiguities, place its expectations in juxtaposition with the empirical findings, and offer alternative interpretations. The works1 of Peter Mair are used to elucidate the decline thesis; once a sharp critic2 of this thesis, he became one of its most prominent champions. I also engage with the partisan dealignment model, with particular reference to the works of Russell Dalton.3 Both approaches, however, are embraced by a vast group of scholars.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Difference between opposition and government-party voters in terms of their average satisfaction with democracy, per CSES study.
Figure 1. Difference between opposition and government-party voters in terms of their average satisfaction with democracy, ordered by year.
Table 2. Closure of governmental arena in three historical periods in Western Europe.

Last Paragraph:
Although my conclusion differs from some of Mair's, its underlying logic actually springs from his work. It was Peter Mair who most consistently argued in favour of the importance of inter-party relations, claiming that they could be conceptualized as the independent variables behind mass behaviour. Although parties cooperate with each other on many fronts, they organize elections and government-building along clear demarcation lines. In line with their original rationale, they give continuity and structure to the political field and contribute to the long time-horizon of mass politics.

Last updated March 2014