Few scholars on political parties would disagree that intra-party democracy (IPD) is desirable. Yet, this is exactly where agreement ends. Precisely how we should conceptualize IPD is open to debate. This paper suggests a two-dimensional conceptualization of IPD based on the nature of the process of intra-party decision-making and presents findings on 122 parties in 19 democracies. It shows that many modern political parties combine plebiscitary and assembly-based methods of IPD.
When we look at the outcome of IPD we find that high levels of IPD are not necessarily associated with outcomes that are commonly regarded as ‘democratic’, e.g. responsiveness, women’s representation, or the selection of responsible leaders. At the same time, higher IPD may be beneficial to system-level preconditions of democracy such as trust in institutions.
Thomas Poguntke, MSc (LSE) 1983; PhD, European University Institute Florence 1989; Habilitation, University of Mannheim 1999, is Professor of Comparative Politics at the Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf and Director of the Düsseldorf Party Research Institute (PRuF) and has previously held chairs at the universities of Keele, Birmingham and Bochum and was Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence.
He was series editor of the Routledge/ECPR Studies in European Political Science and co-editor of German Politics and is author and editor of numerous publications on political parties and comparative politics including The Presidentialization of Politics. A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies (Oxford University Press 2005; with Paul D. Webb) and Organizing Political Parties: Representation, Participation and Power (Oxford University Press, in press; with Susan E. Scarrow and Paul D. Webb).