Political parties as participatory arenas

Anika Gauja, University of Sydney

Tue 9 October 2018

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra

Abstract

In this presentation I engage with the often-made claim that shifting patterns of political participation threaten parties as viable organisations and as mechanisms of linkage between citizens and the state. I explore the possibilities for partisan democratic renewal and increased citizen engagement that arise with a shift to more individualised, or personalised types of political participation. Using data from a comparative study of party reform and an Australian-based study of contemporary party membership, I examine how political parties have accommodated new demands for participation within their organisational arrangements, focusing on the key party functions of candidate selection, policy development and campaign communication. Many of these participatory opportunities are being extended beyond party members to supporters, blurring the boundaries of party. I reflect on how these new structures and processes are reshaping the role of parties as mediators between citizens and the state, and the challenges involved in reconciling personalised politics with collective identity.