Weimarer Republik - Ein Parteienstaat? (German Edition)
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These reforms established a pattern that, despite regime changes and anti-party sentiments in France, Germany, and Italy, was not reversed after the Second World War. Rather, episodes of political change always resulted in further institutional entanglement between parties and state with the aim of strengthening democracy.
Political parties were the main drivers behind these institutional changes and their integration with the state, also at moments when their societal base was still strong. Other than assumed by political scientists as well as historians e. The institutional entanglement of parties has rather been an essential feature of 20th-century democracy that has, overall, benefited its development. This opens up two possible avenues for research into the history and future of party—state relations and their implication for democracy.
The first concerns the question how can we explain the current alienation between parties and society if, other than often assumed, the institutional integration of parties in the state, which is now blamed for that alienation, was actually deeply rooted and beneficial for the development of democracy. The findings of this article suggest that future research should focus on another dimension of the entanglement of parties and the state.
Over the course of the past decades, parties have increasingly come to consider themselves public bodies and have come to identify with the interests of the state, rather than with their social constituencies. It should be said that also this trend for parties to represent the state goes back a long time. From the Interwar era onwards, observers noted party tendency to move away from the representation of particular groups and identify with the general interest and, by implication, the interests of the state. Examples are rife.
But we must very emphatically identify with the nation, with the general interest of the people.
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The institutional entanglement of political parties with the state—visible in electoral laws, constitutions and party finance laws—seems connected to this shift from popular to statal representation that parties have gone through. But it does not seem to be a hard prerequisite for it. Indeed, focusing on the dimension of representation in the entanglement of parties and the state might explain why the crisis of traditional parties is felt also in countries where the institutional entanglement of parties and state has not proceeded as far as in, for instance, Germany.
And it could consequently explain why also there anti-party forces have been on the rise. Will the entanglement of parties and state be reversed or will current anti-party forces eventually adapt and conform to standing institutions of the party—state? Some might argue that adaption is what we could expect. The German Green Party comes to mind as the key example here. Explicitly founded as an extra-parliamentary movement that would break with a typical party organization that characterized the established parties and determined to break with the privileges that parties enjoyed in the German Parteienstaat , the Greens, once in parliament, easily adapted to existing structures and did no longer challenge the institutions of the Parteienstaat it once resented Hockenos, More generally, the history of party—state relations in France, Italy, and Germany shows how parties have been able to meet anti-party challenges with further institutional entanglement of parties with the state, and that the pattern established after has been able to withstand regime changes and Wars throughout the 20th century.
However, there are also signs that democracy is entering a new phase in which anti-party politics could translate into the institutional disentanglement of parties and state. Italy can serve as the most enlightening historical case in this regard, as in this country, more than in any other anti-party forces have politically been powerful since at least the s Orsina, Italy experienced an exceptional political crisis early in that decade in which, as first European country, the parties that embodied the postwar democratic order and had driven the institutional entanglement of parties and state, broke down Scoppola, While there were numerous causes for the tumultuous events of the early s, growing fatigue with traditional parties was a major explanation for their quick collapse Crainz, Many peculiarities of Italian democracy have survived the political overhaul of the early s Bull, , but for party—state relations the events did constitute a critical juncture in which opportunities arose to disentangle parties and the state.
Indeed, ever since the s, the country has witnessed a wave of anti-party movements and initiatives that have not only successfully broke the power of traditional parties but also commenced to challenge the institutional entanglement of parties with the state. While, during the first post decades, the country adhered to a system of proportional representation that benefited power sharing between the major parties, the country abandoned the system in the early s by referendum—and frequently changed system since. More importantly, direct party financing by the state has been abolished in the country.
A referendum in the late s still showed majority support for the practice of state financing of parties, but public financing was abolished in the crisis of the s and formally ended in Pizzimenti, Still, it is possible that also elsewhere anti-party forces will grow stronger and aim to enact institutional change that will benefit them and their own model of political organization, just as the current institutional outline benefits traditional parties and their organizational model. Traditional parties have prided themselves on a tradition of representative democracy within their own organizations that was compatible with, and indeed fostered, representative democracy in the state at large.
Political newcomers nowadays are built on a different kind of internal organization, such as the strong leadership tradition in right wing populism or the promise of some kind of liquid e-democracy in the case of the Italian Five Star Movement Iacoboni, These notions of political organization practiced inside these challengers of the political order might prove to be incompatible with current existing institutional arrangements that regulate and benefit traditional parties. It could even, as recent Italian history seems to indicate, result in a call for institutional reform that would disentangle parties and the state.
As such, once could even argue that the current situation shows some similarities to the political situation at the beginning of the 20th century. Then, as now, political newcomers—at the time, mass parties, now anti-party forces—challenged the established political order—then, the old liberal-conservative elite, now established political parties—and aimed to adapt the institutional outline to their advantage.
I would like to thank Ido de Haan and the three anonymous reviewers for Comparative Political Studies for their invaluable suggestions for improvement.
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The usual disclaimer applies. Triepel, H. Die Staatsverfassung der politischen Parteien.
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Rome, Italy: Sansoni. Contribution of Lelio Basso in to Il finanziamento dei partiti. Pepijn Corduwener is an assistant professor in History at Utrecht University. He is specialized in the history and contemporary politics of democracy in Europe and has published The Problem of Democracy in Postwar Europe London: Routledge, Skip to main content. Comparative Political Studies. Article Menu. Download PDF. Open EPUB.
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