Building: VMP 8 Floor: Ground Room: 06
Disintermediation can be considered as an increasingly relevant phenomenon in contemporary society. When one thinks about the changes occurred in commerce, business, journalism, or communication, it is impossible not to notice a growing trend towards more direct and less mediated relationships, also fostered by the Internet. Such a trend is also affecting political party organizations. Indeed, in recent years, party scholars have pointed to some apparently contradictory developments, that have often been treated separately. On the one hand, a concentration of power and visibility in the hands of the leader has been acknowledged (i.e.: personalisation and presidentialisation of politics); on the other hand, scholars have observed the increasing opening up of internal decision-making procedures to members, or even supporters, through “direct democracy” mechanisms and/or the use of the Internet. The result of this dual trend is what we define as disintermediation: the creation of an (apparently?) direct linkage between party leadership and supporters and, more broadly, between citizens and political power. Disintermediation, in other words, implies a transformation of the forms of political mediation towards more direct and unmediated relationships, challenging political parties as organizational structures between citizens and the state and as agents of political representation. New parties seems more likely to take advantage of such changes. They are not bound to the tradition of the structured mass parties, and they often emerged in overt opposition to the older decision-making structures of party organizations. The aim of the panel is to propose a theoretical basis for this phenomenon and to focus on the rhetorics and practices of disintermediation in new parties, in order to explore the different responses that they have been enacting in order to bypass classical mediated practices of party organizations. Is disintermediation affecting all the parties likewise? Which is the role of the spread of digital media in these processes? And finally, does disintermediation bring forward a genuine direct linkage between leaders and supporters, or does it favour some actors at the expense of others?