Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 August 2011
This article analyses the process of party constitutionalization in post-war Europe. It explores the temporal patterns of party constitutionalization and reveals their connection with moments of fundamental institutional restructuring. It discusses the different modes of party constitutionalization, and addresses what these convey about the underlying conceptions of party democracy. It argues that the constitutional codification of political parties has consolidated the empirical reality of modern party government as well as its normative foundations of modern party government, thereby transforming political parties from socio-political organizations into integral units of the democratic state. Finally, it suggests that the constitutionalization of the democratic importance of political parties might reflect an attempt to legitimize their existence in the face of their weakening as agents of democratic representation.
1 Indeed, Schattschneider's oft-cited observation that ‘the political parties created democracy and modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of the political parties’ has become a conventional wisdom among party scholars. See Schattschneider, E. E., Party Government (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1942)Google Scholar, p. 1.
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20 Other (organic) laws which might have constitutional status have thus been excluded.
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23 The new integrated Finnish constitution of 1999 is based on four older constitutional acts (the Constitution Act, the Parliament Act and two acts on ministerial liability). The Parliament Act has included a reference to political parties since 1991.
24 For the purpose of this research, ‘democracy’ has been operationalized as a country classified as ‘Free’ by the Freedom House at the end of 2007, with the exception of small states with a population under 100,000.
25 More detailed information on the coding of the constitutions can be found in the Appendix. A catalogue of all cases of post-war European party constitutionalization, including subsequent amendments, is available online in a searchable database at www.partylaw.leidenuniv.nl. This database also contains details of party regulation through party laws and party finance laws.
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28 This in contrast with the Provisional Constitution (Vorläufige Verfassung) adopted on 1 May 1945, where, in line with their leading role in the reconstruction of the Second Republic, parties were given a much more prominent position. This document, however, was suspended when the current constitution was reinstated. See Hans-Wolfram Wilde, ‘Die Politischen Parteien im Verfassungssystem Österreichs’ (doctoral dissertation, Kiel, 1984).
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32 Article 49 of the Italian constitution states: ‘All citizens shall have the right to associate freely in political parties in order to contribute by democratic means to the determination of national policy.’
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35 The first sentence of article 6 of the Spanish constitution reads: ‘Political parties are the expression of political pluralism, they contribute to the formation and expression of the will of the people and are an essential instrument for political participation.’
38 For more details, see ‘Proposition de Revision portant creation d'un article 32bis nouveau de la Constitution’, outlining the official positions of the Government, the Council of State and the Committee for Constitutional Reform, on www.chd.lu/archives/ArchivesPortlet, Chambre des Députés, 22 February 2007; 31 August 2007; 13 November 2007; 29 November 2007.
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68 Ingrid van Biezen, Peter Mair and Thomas Poguntke, ‘Going, Going, … Gone? Party Membership in the 21st Century’ (European Journal of Political Science, 2011 (Early View Online) at the ECPR Joint Sessions, Lisbon, 2009).
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83 Katz and Mair, ‘Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy’.
84 Van Biezen and Kopecký, ‘The State and the Parties’.
86 Nevil Johnson, for example, notes that parties in Germany have adapted their internal structure and behaviour the requirements deduced from the Basic Law. Moreover: ‘All parties have been keenly alive to the normative implications of Article 21 in respect of their public attitudes both to the constitutional order itself and to the formulation of specific policies within it.’ See Johnson, Nevil, ‘Law as the Articulation of the State in Western Germany: A German Tradition seen from a British Perspective’, West European Politics, 1 (1978), 177–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar, p. 188.