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4. Parties and Party Systems

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Chapter Summary

Party organizations emerged in legislative assemblies as organizational devices designed to facilitate and stabilize longer-term voting coalitions between legislators in the chamber, replacing earlier ad-hoc coalitions based on spontaneous coordination, bribery and other mechanisms. While historical and descriptive accounts of individual parties have always emphasized party ideology, older analytic theories of party behavior had often modeled parties as being predominantly driven by office-seeking motivations. Much research and theorizing about political parties has dealt with parties as organizations. The first modern parties in the late 18th and early 19th century were characterized as parties of notables, alternatively referred to as elite, caucus or cadre parties. The social changes in advanced post-industrial societies from the late 1960s challenged the model of catch-all party. Institutional and sociological explanations have been advanced to explain cross-national and diachronic differences in the format and structure of party systems in liberal democracies.

Keywords: liberal democracies; party systems; political parties; post-industrial societies; social changes



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