An exploration and critique of Katz and Mair's Cartel Party theory

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Ashton, MB (2009)

There have been a variety of attempts in recent years to categorise party systems. This work examines one such attempt at a new party type, Katz and Mair's cartel party theory, which was first proposed in 1995. It will initially approach the cartel party theory from a theoretical angle looking at the internal tensions and inconsistencies within the theory. The German party system will then be looked at to see what it reveals about the theory so a new critique can be drawn up and modifications to the theory suggested. Katz and Mair argue that faced with declining electoral support and falling membership levels, political parties have turned towards the state in order to secure much needed resources. These resources can take the form of control over electoral rules, state funding and access to the media. At the same time parties attempt to use their position of dominance to control the entrance of new parties into the cartel. This in turn leads to organisational and ideological change within the parties, creating cartel parties. These issues will be explored by looking at the German party system and using this example to critique and modify the theory. When Katz and Mair first put forward their theory they admitted it was very vague in some areas. This work addresses some of these issues, fleshing out the theory and providing modifications where it is unsatisfactory.
  • References (1)

    Mair, P., Biezen, I.V., (2001), 'Party membership in twenty European democracies, 1980-2000', Party Politics, Volume 7, Number 1, pp. 5-21 Saalfeld, T., (1997), 'Up and down with the extreme right in Germany, 1949- 1996', Politics, Volume 17, Number 1, pp. 1-8 Yishai, Y., (2001), 'Bringing society back in: Post-cartel parties in Israel', Party Politics, Volume 7, Number 6, pp. 667-687

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