Major Parties Undermined by 21st Century Changes



Democratic Voice: Political Sovereignty in Conditions of Pluralisation
Australian Journal of Political Science
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There are many reasons being offered to explain the decline of major political parties in commanding public engagement and support. Among them are the failings of individual politicians together with the growing disconnect between political parties and citizens. But the authors argue there are also deeper causes at play.

Specifically, they point to the way contemporary society is increasingly organised around diversity and complexity, and how these factors make it difficult for political parties to command lasting engagement with voters.

As the authors state: 'It has become more and more difficult to aggregate interests, preferences and orientations into workable processes of political contestation and governing institutions. Democratic deficits thus arise out of the shortfalls in political forms that were designed to deal with the aggregation of interests of relatively stable and clearly defined social clusters rather than the negotiation and amelioration of differences that tend to be fluid.'

In short, new forms of democratic expression by citizens are now emerging as a potentially new paradigm of politics.

Traditional institutions and electoral processes in liberal democracies everywhere are struggling to decipher and organise these new forms.

This in turn presents challenges for political scientists to understand these new forms of expression, as well as how democratic institutions can renew themselves to take account of these changes.


Thumbnail image: Edwin Lee/Flickr

Michael Crozier

Murdoch University

Adrian Little

University of Melbourne

Published Date
September 11, 2012