Responsive and responsible? : the role of parties in twenty-first century politics
Title: Responsive and responsible? : the role of parties in twenty-first century politics
Publisher: Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis Ltd
Citation: West European politics, 2014, Vol. 37, No. 2 SI, pp. 235-252
ISSN: 0140-2382; 1743-9655
This article focuses on a particular aspect dear to theories of democracy in general and theories of representation in particular: the tension between responsiveness and responsibility affecting political parties in modern, liberal democracies. In doing so, it engages with Peter Mair's intellectual passion for this topic, which he developed over the years and intensively worked on until his premature death in 2011. He argued that this tension became ever more apparent, putting the very functioning and legitimacy of democratic government under great pressure. This contribution goes back in time, to the very beginning of the modern state, and argues that already the nascent parties and party systems were affected by the tension between responsiveness and responsibility. It then offers a synopsis, organised in a series of pictures' or frames' of the historical parcours along which this tension has impacted on the development of political parties. The article also presents and summarises the collective effort undertaken by a number of scholars, coming together to honour Peter Mair's work, to shed further theoretical and empirical light on this fundamental tension.
Subject: Democracy; models
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