Across Europe, parties are undergoing transformation processes with no definitive end in sight.(1) In an attempt to counter growing disenchantment, many have stepped up efforts to strengthen members’ participation in recent years. Statistical research suggests that in parliamentary democracies parties have become more likely to involve members in policy and personnel decisions.(2)
Downsides to inner-party democracy
With expanding democratic procedures supporters gain more opportunities to push parties in new directions. Of course, this can have many positive effects. But, given that internal politics determine which citizens parties represent and how, they also pose great hazards. The risks include: alienating important interest groups, marginalising minorities, parallel structures undermining institutions, intensified loyalty conflicts, and third-party imperatives imposed on elected representatives if members get to decide on state affairs.