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Political Parties and Democratic Linkage How Parties Organize Democracy

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Oxford University Press

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  • Political Parties and Democratic Linkage How Parties Organize Democracy
    Political Parties and Democratic Linkage How Parties Organize Democracy


Is the party over? Parties are the central institutions of representative democracy, but critics increasingly claim that parties are failing to perform their democratic functions. This book assembles unprecedented cross-national evidence to assess how parties link the individual citizen to the formation of governments and then to government policies. Using the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and other recent cross-national data, the authors examine the workings of this party linkage process across established and new democracies. Political parties still dominate the electoral process in shaping the discourse of campaigns, the selection of candidates, and mobilizing citizens to vote. Equally striking, parties link citizen preferences to the choice of representatives, with strong congruence between voter and party Left/Right positions. These preferences are then translated in the formation of coalition governments and their policies.

The authors argue that the critics of parties have overlooked the ability of political parties to adapt to changing conditions in order to perform their crucial linkage functions. As the context of politics and societies have changed, so too have political parties. Political Parties and Democratic Linkage argues that the process of party government is alive and well in most contemporary democracies.

Author Biography

Russell J. Dalton is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at UC Irvine. Dalton has been awarded a Fulbright Research Fellowship, Scholar-in-Residence at the Barbra Streisand Center, German Marshall Fund Research Fellowship, and the POSCO Fellowship at the East West Center in Hawaii. He is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine.

David M. Farrell is a specialist in the study of parties and electoral systems, he is founding co-editor of Party Politics and co-editor of the ECPR/Oxford University Press series, Comparative Politics. He is Professor of Politics and Head of the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin.

Ian McAllister has been director of the Australian Election Study since 1987, and was Chair of the Comparative Study of Electoral System project from 2004 to 2009. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a Corresponding Member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Australian National University.

Table of Contents

1. Parties and Representative Government
2. Parties and Electoral Institutions
3. Party Mobilization and Campaign Participation
4. Citizens and their Policy Preferences
5. Party Images and Party Linkage
6. Voter Choice and Partisan Representation
7. Government Formation and Democratic Representation
8. Party Policies and Policy Outputs
9. Party Evolution

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