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Political Research Exchange

Internal Party Democracy: Criteria for Assessment

Political Parties
Party Members
Višeslav Raos
University of Zagreb
Goran Cular
University of Zagreb
Višeslav Raos
University of Zagreb
Dario Nikic Cakar
University of Zagreb

Internal party democracy (IPD) has been recently increasingly researched area of empirical political science dealing with political parties. Starting form classical authors (Michels, Duverger, Sartori) the paper reviews contemporary empirical works on IPD (or some aspects of it like candidate selection or party leadership selection) trying to identify different normative and conceptual approaches to IPD and its relationship to democracy as a political system. The main dilemmas are: a) should IPD be conceptualized in much the same vein like the "big" democracy (complex set of political institutions that assure competition, representation, participation and accountability) or it requires a simple account of whether citizens (party members) "have more say in politics"?; b) should IPD be a priori positively viewed or only if it contributes to the functioning of "big" democracy?; c) does IPD refers to the overall decision-making processes in a party or only to those decisions that have direct repercussions for the quality of democratic political process? Based on the review and discussion, the paper proposes an operationalization of the concept of IPD and dimensions and indicators of party organizational life through which the concept can be empirically measured in a theoretically meaningful way.
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