The challenges & pitfalls of inner party democracy in European politics
Across Europe parties are currently 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)
With expanding democratic procedures supporters gain more potential to push parties in new directions. For obvious reasons, this can have many positive effects. But given that internal politics determine which citizens parties represent and how, they also pose great hazards, including 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.