Op-ed: Two reasons for the crisis of political parties

By Christophoros Vernardakis *

The debate over parties and party systems emerges from time to time in critical political theory circles but also in broader public discussion.

That is because parties, the fundamental institutional form of political representation of social classes and groups, are in deep crisis.

The first and overarching reason is that political parties are transforming, changing from representative social groupings ever more into a sub-system of the state and of its political mechanism.

Political theory calls them "cartel parties". They do not seek ideological, policy-based, human, and economic resources in society. Instead, they find these almost ready in the state and the mechanisms of continuity that it has built and deepened.

The cartel party finds its formal expression in parties of the political right or centre. Yet left-wing parties do nor remain unaffected even though they have stronger resistances in dealing with this transformation.

There is yet another cause for the crisis in left-wing parties. They, along with other forms of social mobilisation and representation (such as trade unions), were formed "in an era when the majority of the population was illiterate or with a low level of education and when communications were limited to certain social elites (Op-ed Ef/Syn daily, 05/06/21, by Professor Antonis Liakos and Myrsini Zorba).

"Old-style" parties operated as "anti-society" structures, as mechanisms of politics and not just of socialisation, as mechanisms for the dissemination of information, as a space for cultural practices and edification, and even as substitutes for the social state.

In this environment, it was obvious that parties sought and found resources in the more cutting edge...

Continue reading on: