New Bulgarian University Species of Political Parties Question Response

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PA RT Y P O L I T I C S V O L 9 . N o . 2 pp. 167–199 Copyright © 2003 SAGE Publications London Thousand Oaks New Delhi SPECIES OF POLITICAL PARTIES A New Typology Richard Gunther and Larry Diamond ABSTRACT While the literature already includes a large number of party typologies, they are increasingly incapable of capturing the great diversity of party types that have emerged worldwide in recent decades, largely because most typologies were based upon West European parties as they existed in the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries. Some new party types have been advanced, but in an ad hoc manner and on the basis of widely varying and often inconsistent criteria. This article is an effort to set many of the commonly used conceptions of parties into a coherent framework, and to delineate new party types whenever the existing models are incapable of capturing important aspects of contemporary parties. We classify each of 15 ‘species’ of party into its proper ‘genus’ on the basis of three criteria: (1) the nature of the party’s organization (thick/thin, elite-based or mass-based, etc.); (2) the programmatic orientation of the party (ideological, particularistic-clientele-oriented, etc.); and (3) tolerant and pluralistic (or democratic) versus proto-hegemonic (or anti-system). While this typology lacks parsimony, we believe that it captures more accurately the diversity of the parties as they exist in the contemporary democratic world, and is more conducive to hypothesistesting and theory-building than others. KEY WORDS party organization party programmes party systems party types For nearly a century, political scientists have developed typologies and models of political parties in an effort to capture the essential features of the partisan organizations that were the objects of their analysis. The end result is that the literature today is rich with various categories of party types, some of which have acquired the status of ‘classics’ and have been used by scholars for decades (e.g. Duverger, 1954; Kirchheimer, 1966; Neumann, 1956). We believe, however, that the existing models of political parties do not adequately capture the full range of variation in party types found in 1354-0688(200303)9:2;167–199;030836 PA RT Y P O L I T I C S 9 ( 2 ) the world today, and that the various typologies of parties, based on a wide variety of definitional criteria, have not been conducive to cumulative theorybuilding. This article, therefore, is an attempt to re-evaluate the prevailing typologies of political parties, retaining widely used concepts and terminology wherever possible, consolidating and clarifying party models in some cases, and defining new party types in others. This is for several reasons. First, nearly all of the existing typologies of political parties were derived from studies of West European parties over the past century and a half. Accordingly, some of their distinguishing features are products of that particular temporal and geographical context. Parties that have emerged more recently, as well as those functioning in other parts of the world, have been substantially affected by greatly different social and technological environments. This is certainly true of parties in developing countries whose populations exhibit considerable ethnic, religious and/or linguistic diversity, upon which competitive parties have most commonly been based. It is even true of the United States, whose two highly decentralized parties fit uneasily with most existing party typologies (see Beck, 1997). Similarly, many of the parties that first emerged in the late twentieth century have prominent features that cannot be captured using classic party typologies developed a century earlier. In this later period of party development, television (which did not exist at the time the classic party typologies were formulated) had unequivocally become the most important medium of political communication between candidates and voters in nearly all modern democracies (see Gunther and Mughan, 2000). This medium systematically privileges the personalities of party leaders over presentation of party programmes or ideology, at the same time as it greatly reduces the utility of mass membership as a vehicle for electoral mobilization. Also in the late twentieth century, public opinion polling and ‘focus groups’ have been increasingly employed, facilitating the crafting of ad hoc electoral appeals, at the expense of long-standing ideological principles, programmatic commitments and constituency interests. Finally, fundamental features of mass culture and social structure had also changed profoundly by the late twentieth century: extreme economic inequality and the high political salience of the class cleavage had declined in many countries, while new political conflicts growing out of ‘post-materialist’ values had begun to affect partisan politics. In the absence of an expanded and updated typology of parties, the small number of party models that make up the most commonly used typologies has often led to an excessive ‘concept stretching’. Inappropriate labels have been applied to newly emerging parties whose characteristics depart markedly from those which went into the original definition of the party model. In effect, this represents an effort to cram square pegs into round holes. Both empirical studies and theory-building can be weakened by unwarranted assumptions of commonalities (if not uniformity) among parties that are, in fact, quite varied, and by the inappropriate application 168 G U N T H E R A N D D I A M O N D : S P E C I E S O F P O L I T I C A L PA RT I E S of labels to parties whose organizational, ideological or strategic characteristics differ significantly from the original prototype. The term ‘catch-all’, for example, has been most frequently subjected to this kind of abuse (see Puhle, 2002), given its de facto status as a residual category that seems to be more flexible and adaptable to contemporary circumstances than the earlier classic party models. Thus, while we acknowledge the many valuable contributions of empirical studies of parties that have been based upon the traditional West European party models, we believe that the study of parties in other world regions, as well as efforts to better capture the dynamics of ‘the new campaign politics’ of recent decades (see Pasquino, 2001), would be greatly enhanced by a reassessment and broadening of these party models. A second problem with the existing typologies is that, in the aggregate, they have been based on a wide variety of criteria, and little or no effort has been invested in an attempt to make them more consistent and compatible with one another. These inconsistencies, as well as the lack of precision in defining certain types of parties, have hindered the capacity of research in this area to result in cumulative theory-building. Some typologies are based upon functionalist criteria, differentiating among parties on the basis of an organizational raison d’être or some specific goal that they pursue. Sigmund Neumann (1956), for example, distinguishes between ‘parties of individual representation’ (which articulate the demands of specific social groups) and ‘parties of social integration’ (which have well-developed organizations and provide a wide variety of services to members, encapsulating them within a partisan community, in exchange for which they count on financial contributions and volunteered services of members during election campaigns). In his typology, ‘parties of total integration’ have more ambitious goals of seizing power and radically transforming societies, demanding the full commitment and unquestioning obedience of members. Herbert Kitschelt (1989) differentiates parties that emphasize the ‘logic of electoral competition’ from those (such as the ‘left-libertarian’ type that he introduces) that place much greater stress on the ‘logic of constituency representation’. Wolinetz (2002) distinguishes among ‘vote-seeking’, ‘policy-seeking’ and ‘office-seeking’ parties. And Katz and Mair (1995) implicitly advance a functionalist logic in setting forth the model of the ‘cartel party’, in which public financing of parties and the expanded role of the state induce party leaders to restrain competition and seek primarily to perpetuate themselves in power to avail themselves of these new resources. Other classification schemes are organizational, distinguishing between parties that have thin organizational structures and those that have developed large infrastructures and complex networks of collaborative relationships with other secondary organizations. The classic statement of this kind was by Maurice Duverger, who advanced a two-and-one-half category scheme separating ‘cadre’ parties (most commonly led by individuals with high socio-economic status) from ‘mass’ parties (which mobilize broad 169 PA RT Y P O L I T I C S 9 ( 2 ) segments of the electorate through the development of a large and complex organization), with the ‘devotee’ party alluded to but dismissed as ‘too vague to constitute a separate category’.1 Herbert Kitschelt (1994) posits a four-part classification system distinguishing among ‘centralist clubs’, ‘Leninist cadre’ parties, ‘decentralized clubs’ and ‘decentralized mass’ parties. And Angelo Panebianco (1988), in the most elaborate articulation of an organizational typology, contrasts ‘mass-bureaucratic’ parties with ‘electoral-professional’ parties. Some scholars of party politics implicitly or explicitly base their work on the notion that parties are the products of (and ought to represent the interests of) various social groups. This sociological orientation characterizes the analyses of parties set forth by Samuel Eldersveld (1964) and Robert Michels (1915), as Panebianco (1988: 3) points out. Finally, there are some prominent scholars who indiscriminately mix all three of these sets of criteria, such as Otto Kirchheimer (1966), who posits four party models: bourgeois parties of individual representation; class-mass parties; denominational mass parties; and catch-all people’s parties. We do not object to the notion that several different criteria may be employed to differentiate one type of party from another. Indeed, as is apparent below, we use three criteria as the basis of our own integrative schema. However, we do believe that systematic hypothesis-testing and cumulative theory-building have been hindered by the tendency of proponents of the various typologies to ‘talk past’ one another without systematically assessing the overlap or distinctiveness, not to mention the relative merits, of the various classification schema.2 This lack of conceptual and terminological consistency stands in sharp contrast to some other subfields of political science, such as the closely related literature on party systems, within which a clear consensus has emerged concerning the meaning (and even specific operational indicators) of such core concepts as ‘fragmentation’, ‘volatility’ and ‘disproportionality’. Some (but by no means all) of these typologies, moreover, have been based on the selection of just one criterion as the basis of a typology (be it organizational structure, principal organizational objective or social basis of representation). This has narrowed the focus of analysis excessively, while much variation within each party type is not systematically analysed. What is gained in terms of parsimony is lost in terms of the ability to capture theoretically significant variation among real-world parties. In addition, many of these studies are excessively deductive, positing at the outset that one particular criterion is of paramount importance without sustaining that assertion through a careful assessment of relevant evidence. As a result, some such studies fall victim to reductionist argumentation, in which several structural or behavioural characteristics of parties are assumed to have been caused by one privileged variable. Duverger (1954), for example, sets forth an organization-based typology, but also acknowledges the great importance of social class-linking cadre parties with the middle and upper strata, 170 G U N T H E R A N D D I A M O N D : S P E C I E S O F P O L I T I C A L PA RT I E S and the working class with mass-based parties. He explains this relationship by contending that these organizational forms are dictated by varying levels of resources and constraints faced by party-builders in their efforts to secure funding necessary to support their activities. We believe (with Koole, 1996) that it is premature to attempt to build elaborate theories on the basis of what may be inadequate typologies. A more open and ultimately productive line of empirical analysis should begin with a more theoretically modest but empirically more comprehensive and accurate set of party types that are more truly reflective of real-world variations among parties. This is particularly necessary in an effort to include countries outside of Western Europe within a preliminary comparative analysis. Thus, we shall increase the number of party types, building whenever possible on models and terminology previously advanced by other scholars, while at the same time imposing some semblance of order on some of the criteria most commonly used as the basis of party typologies. Specifically, we try to avoid the common temptation to introduce a new party type on ad hoc grounds, based simply on a conclusion that a particular case cannot be adequately explained using the existing typologies. Our typology of parties is based upon three criteria. The first of these involves the nature of the formal organization of the party. Some parties are organizationally thin, while others develop large mass-membership bases with allied or ancillary institutions engaged in distinct but related spheres of social life; some rely on particularistic networks of personal interaction or exchange, while others are open and universalistic in membership and appeal; and some rely heavily, if not exclusively, on modern techniques of mass communication and ignore the development of primary, face-to-face channels of communication or secondary associations. The second classificatory criterion involves the nature of the party’s programmatic commitments. Accordingly, some parties derive programmatic stands from well-articulated ideologies rooted in political philosophies, religious beliefs or nationalistic sentiments; others are either pragmatic or have no well-defined ideological or programmatic commitments; still others are committed to advance the interests of a particular ethnic, religious or socioeconomic group, or geographically defined constituency, in contrast to those that are heterogeneous if not promiscuously eclectic in their electoral appeals to groups in society. The third criterion involves the strategy and behavioural norms of the party, specifically, whether the party is tolerant and pluralistic or proto-hegemonic in its objectives and behavioural style: some parties are fully committed to democratic rules-of-the-game, are tolerant and respectful towards their opponents, and are pluralistic in their views of polity and society; others are semi-loyal to democratic norms and institutions, or are explicitly anti-system, favouring the replacement of the existing pluralistic democracy with a regime that would be more uniformly committed to the achievement of their programmatic objectives. In our more detailed discussion of parties that are characteristic of each 171 PA RT Y P O L I T I C S 9 ( 2 ) party model, we also deal with two other dimensions of party life that are significant and have been extensively dealt with in the existing literature on parties. One of these is sociological, i.e. the nature of the clientele towards which the party pitches its appeals, and whose interests it purports to defend or advance. The second involves the internal dynamics of party decisionmaking, particularly the nature and degree of prominence of the party’s leader, ranging from a dominant charismatic figure, at one extreme, to more collective forms of party leadership, at the other. We hypothesize that party types (defined by the organizational, programmatic and strategic criteria listed above) are often associated with particular social clienteles and/or leadership patterns, but not in a deterministic manner, and certainly not to the extent that these sociological and leadership dimensions are built into the definition of the party type. It is important to note that the models of political parties that we describe below are ideal types, in the strictest Weberian sense of that term. As such, they are heuristically useful insofar as they give easily understandable labels that will help the reader more easily comprehend otherwise complex, multidimensional concepts. Moreover, they facilitate analysis insofar as they serve as baselines for comparisons involving real-world cases, or as extreme endpoints of evolutionary processes that might never be fully attained. As with all ideal types, however, one should not expect that real-world political parties fully conform to all of the criteria that define each party model; similarly, some parties may include elements of more than one ideal type. Perhaps most importantly, individual parties may evolve over time, such that they may have most closely approximated one party type in an earlier period, but shift in the direction of a different type later on. Types of Political Parties On the basis of these three criteria, we identify 15 different ‘species’ of party that we believe better capture the basic essence of political parties around the world, and during various historical eras, than do most of the established party typologies. We also recognize, however, a negative trade-off that is implicit in this approach: the obvious lack of parsimony may confuse the reader or make it difficult to appreciate the most crucial differences among these numerous party types. We therefore privilege one of our three classificatory dimensions – the type of party organization. Borrowing an analogy from biology, we regard the type of party organization as defining as a genus which, in turn, encompasses several species of political party. These genera are: elite-based parties, mass-based parties, ethnicity-based parties, electoralist parties and movement parties. These can be seen in Figure 1, which displays these party types in a two-dimensional array with ‘organizationally thin’ parties towards the left and ‘organizationally thick’ parties towards the right side of the diagram, and with party types that emerged in earlier 172 G U N T H E R A N D D I A M O N D : S P E C I E S O F P O L I T I C A L PA RT I E S YEAR THIN THICK 1850 Elite-based Tradit. Local Notable Mass-based Socialism Class-mass Clientelistic Nationalism Religion Ethnicity-based PluralistNationalist Denominational Congress Leninist Ultranationalist Ethnic Electoralist Catch-all Programmatic Personalistic Fundamentalist Movement/Parties Left-Libertarian 2000 Post-industrial Extreme-Right Figure 1. Extent of organization historical periods towards the top of the diagram, and more recent entrants on the scene appearing towards the bottom. The correlation between the degree of organizational thinness/thickness of the party and the temporal dimension is not accidental. A political party comes into existence within a specific social and technological context that may evolve over time, and this ‘founding context’ can leave a lasting imprint on the basic nature of the party’s organization for decades to come. Parties are channels of intermediation between political elites and voters, and a particular o …
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