Political Parties Must Modernise: Report



Open Up: The Future of The Political Party
Electoral Reform Society


The report by the UK's Electoral Reform Society, an independent campaigning organisation, examines the role and status of political parties in contemporary democracies and finds that we are now in an 'anti-party' era.

This era, argues the report, is one in which parties are subject to deep levels of cynicism and distrust among voters, perceptions they are beholden to special interests and the growing shift by voters towards voting on single issues, rather than on the basis of encompassing party platforms

The report argues the situation is not all bad because major parties know they need to fix what they acknowledge is serious engagement problem with voters.

In addition, the success of new parties on both the left and right of the political spectrum in attracting large numbers of members shows political parties continue to hold attraction for voters, providing they are in tune with what citizens want.

To close the gap between politics and people, the report makes a number of recommendations for major parties. They include:

  • Allow non-party members to have a say in selecting party candidates
  • Reduce combative politics and refocus on collaborative policy-making
  • Reduce reliance on big donors for funding
  • Reorganise away from 'top down', elitist party structures to more open decision-making processes that embrace citizen-led activity

In releasing the report the Society states: 'The older, more traditional parties need to wake up to this new reality or face the consequences of ever-dwindling support. They need to embrace new ways of opening up beyond their narrowing band of members, and they need to push through reforms which will give people the type of politics they want'.

'They should be part of the solution to political disengagement, not part of the problem.'


Thumbnail image: vonderauvisuals/Flickr.

Jess Garland

Electoral Reform Society

Will Brett

Electoral Reform Society

Published Date
December 18, 2014