The theory of party decline is outdated

Topics: Political party, Elections, Politics Pages: 2 (623 words) Published: October 9, 2014
‘The theory of party decline is outdated’. Discuss

Political parties are key institutions at the heart of the political system. However, the claim that political parties are in decline puts forward the case that the significance of the party role is diminishing. It suggests that other institutions and processes are increasingly carrying out the functions of political parties, and that these alternatives are now dominating these roles and carrying them out more efficiently. The claim that political parties are in decline first arose in the United States in the late 1960s and 70s. There are several factors unique to the situation of American political parties that emphasise he case for party decline. In particular, the vast scale of party operations across the 52 states, the method used for candidate selection and the vast amounts of money used along the campaign. This essay will discuss whether the theory of party is outdated or not.

Candidate selection
Party decline is seen as the parties have lost control over presidential candidate selection. A key feature of the American political system is the use of primaries as a means of candidate selection. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the use and importance of presidential primaries, which has in turn imposed on the role of parties ‘in their most basic function, selecting and running candidates for public office’. The current system is very different to how it would have been half a century ago. Until the late 1960s party officials would have taken decisions behind closed doors. This is one of the key arguments, put forward by David Broder, for the decline of political parties. Where it once it was the party rulers making the selection it has now lost that control.

Significance of money
The significance of money cannot be underestimated when looking at party decline in the US. To run for Congress requires large amounts of money, but to run for President requires even...
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