Parties and party systems

Authored by: Noam Lupu

Routledge Handbook of Comparative Political Institutions

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415630887
eBook ISBN: 9781315731377
Adobe ISBN: 9781317551799


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Although political parties are rarely mentioned in constitutions, there is not a single modern democracy that does not have them. Indeed, scholars have long noted their indispensability to mass, representative democracy (Key 1958; Rosenblum 2008; Schattschneider 2003 [1942]; Stokes 1999). 2 Parties resolve collective action and social choice problems in legislative decision-making (Aldrich 1995). They serve as heuristic devices and bundle policy dimensions for voters who lack the time or inclination to learn about every issue and every candidate (Downs 1957; Popkin 1991). They structure electoral competition with a stable menu of options that makes uncertain elections more predictable and extends the time-horizon of politicians (Mainwaring and Scully 1995). And they discipline politicians and hold them to account even when voters cannot (Alesina and Spear 1988).

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