This book, with contributions from leading scholars in the field, presents a critical overview of much of the recent literature on political parties. It systematically assesses the capacity of existing concepts, typologies, and methodological approaches to deal with contemporary parties. It critically analyses the 'decline of parties' literature both from a conceptual perspective and - with regard to antiparty attitudes among citizens - on the basis of empirical analyses of survey data. It systematically re-examines the underpinnings of rational-choice analyses of electoral competition, as well as the misapplication of standard party models as the 'catch-all party.' Several chapters reexamine existing models of parties and party typologies, particularly with regard to the capacity of commonly used concepts to capture the wide variation among parties that exist in old and new democracies today, and with regard to their ability to deal adequately with the new challenges that parties are facing in rapidly changing political, social and technological environments.
In particular, two detailed case studies demonstrate how party models are significant not only as frameworks for scholarly research, but also insofar as they can affect party performance. Other chapters also examine in detail how corruption and party patronage have contributed to party decline, as well as the public attitudes towards parties in several countries. In the aggregate, the various contributions to this volume reject the notion that a 'decline of party' has progressed to such an extent as to threaten the survival of parties as the crucial intermediary actors in modern democracies. The contributing authors argue, however, that parties are facing a new set of sometimes demanding challenges. Not only have parties differed significantly in their ability to successfully meet these challenges, but the core concepts, typologies, party chdels and methodological approaches that have guided research in this area over the past 40 years have met with only mixed success in adequately capturing these recent developments and serving as fruitful frameworks for analysis. This book is intended to remedy some of these shortcomings.