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Western Democratic Political Parties Are In A State Of Crisis - Essay Example

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The debate on whether political parties in the west are on a decline, and in a crisis continues to raise significant controversy. However, different evidence proves that the western democratic political parties are in a state of crisis…
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Western Democratic Political Parties Are In A State Of Crisis
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"Western Democratic Political Parties Are In A State Of Crisis"

Download file to see previous pages Today, there is a shift and erosion of traditional roles of political parties, and their membership levels have continued to decline over the years. Additionally, the importance of political parties has diminished due to the emergence of candidate-centered party campaigns, and finally, there is the rise of professionals in western political parties and decline in partisan attachment of party members. Although restoring the traditional party form might be impossible, the present parties can overcome this crisis by redirect their efforts to restoring their effectiveness and efficiency in society, basing on democracy. . Political parties are essential, as they contribute to the functioning of democracies, and are responsible for political pluralism in various countries. These also mobilize their members and supporters to take on leadership roles in a country (Diamond & Gunther 2001). Ideally, political parties ought to develop alternative policy platforms, provide ideological direction, and define the agenda of the government in a country (Hofmeister & Grabow 2011). In Western democracies, the contribution of political parties to the political process, and their positions in the public mind, has invigorated a scholarly debate in the recent years. Various data from national election surveys and public opinions show that the public in most Western democracies such as the USA, Great Britain, Canada, among others, consider political parties to have declined (Gallagher, Michael & Mair 2000). Basing on relevant evidence and concepts, this essay focuses on how and why western democratic political parties are in a state of crisis today. First, Western democratic political parties are in a state of crisis today, as they have failed to perform their traditional roles in society appropriately. In the past, democratic political parties acted as an essential part of their governments, and were promoters of democracy. However, today, most democratic political parties have drifted from the traditional roles by serving below the expected standards (Kartz & Mair 1995). This decline in the function of western political parties and loss of party roots is evident in the way political parties today play their representative role. Instead of being representatives of the public as the case in the traditional mass party, parties today have shifted from the wider society, and gotten more close to the government and the state (Kartz & Mair 1995). Money has contributed to this shift in political parties in the west, as these depend on state funding from the state. Therefore, these have prioritized their linkage with the state and government, and not the public. This pattern will eventually result the total diminishing of the traditional mass party (Gunther, Montero & Linz 2003). Therefore, parties have considered outsiders, who donate money to them, and not the public. Today, the non-political bodies such as NGOs have taken over the representative roles of political parties, leaving political parties with the procedural roles only. A second way through which democratic political parties in the west are thought to be in a state of crisis is through the decline in their membership levels. According to Mair & Van Biezen (2001), in Western Europe, the overall membership levels of democratic political parties are on a decline. In 13 democracies in this region, statistics showed that the party membership as a percentage of the national electorate had fallen to 5.7% at the end of the 1990, from 9.8% in 1980. Over the years, the number of party members continues to decline, and this has ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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