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Party and DemocracyThe Uneven Road to Party Legitimacy$
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Piero Ignazi

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198735854

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198735854.001.0001

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Party in Agony?

Party in Agony?

(p.233) 7 Party in Agony?
Party and Democracy

Piero Ignazi

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7 portrays the present challenges to political parties, and their response. The chapter surveys organizational innovations, such as primaries and internal referendums, recently introduced by political parties to counteract their decline in membership and loss of confidence amongst the electorate, and it questions their efficacy and validity. These pro-membership innovations seem in fact to favour a plebiscitary modality rather than effective democratic activity. The chapter suggests that an intra-democracy would need four ‘knights’ that should comprise: inclusion, deliberation, diffusion and pluralism. The alternatives to the party that have been advanced in recent times are considered, but their effective import is challenged. The chapter concludes by arguing for the unavoidability of partisanship for effective democracy. Even if the political party suffers agonizingly over its limited legitimacy, it still remains at the core of democratic politics.

Keywords:   democracy, referendum, direct democracy, plebiscitarism, legitimacy

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