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Intra Party Democracy and Leadership Selection Methods – A Comparative Analysis

Comparative Politics
Democracy
Elites
Political Leadership
Political Participation
Political Parties
Political Theory
Qualitative Comparative Analysis
Annalisa Cappellini
Kings College London
Annalisa Cappellini
Kings College London
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Abstract

To what extent parties must be, should be and are internally democratic relatively to their internal distribution of power and decision-making practices? This is a crucial question yet under researched by the scholarship of political science. This paper aims to fill this gap and to assess to what extent a more inclusive and open leadership selection method increases the level of Intra Party Democracy (IPD). Considering the importance of parties to the realisation of democracy at the system level it is imperative to understand their internal workings. In normative debates the argument is sometimes raised that making parties more internally democratic may reverse the negative trend and tackle their crisis. The concept of IPD is gaining increasing attention given its apparent potential 'to promote a virtuous circle' able to link ordinary citizens to government and to contribute to the stability and legitimacy of the democracies in which these parties compete for power. At its core IPD is about the internal distribution of power within a political party and according to some scholars the most used instrument to pursue IPD is the enhancement of the inclusiveness of leadership selection methods. Even though some attention has been paid to the study of more inclusive methods for selecting candidates, the literature has been far less engaged in analysing the changes in terms of IPD generated by the adoption of such methods. Furthermore, the field of leadership selection is under researched and the existing literature is both quite fragmented and lacks in extensive cross-national comparison. Drawing from the tradition of participatory democratic and supported by Dahl’s five criteria of democracy, this paper will shed a light on the very concept of IPD and its practical realization in Europe. We will start by classifying the existing patterns of IPD in European democracies; then by examining practices of major parliamentary parties in Europe, we will be able to show the link between different categories and the level of democracy existing in specific parties. IPD will be measured according to the key democratic parameters of Participation, Representation, Competition, Responsiveness/Accountability and Transparency. By presenting a cross-national study of IPD this paper will provide a valuable empirical contribution which will help the development of the theoretical and normative debate around IPD and its implications for contemporary political parties.