Mass democracy as it evolved during the twentieth century was essentially party democracy and it was this model of Western party democracy that was adopted in the post-communist states of central and eastern Europe. Parties monopolised the representation function, defined the options, developed their programmes and policies and played a key role in linking governors and governed. Yet as we enter the new millennium there are signs that party democracy is in crisis. Cross-national survey data point to the fact that parties appear increasingly remote and out of touch, are less easily differentiated by voters, attract fewer members and enjoy the regular support of only a minority of citizens. The introduction of state funding, moreover, has meant that parties have become an extended arm of the state, reinforcing their perceived distance from ordinary voters. Is party democracy in crisis? Are parties past their sell-by-date? What, in sum, is the contribution of political parties to the democratic process in the early twenty-first century? These are some of the seminal questions addressed in this challenging new series in which established authorities critically examine the role of political parties in their country of expertise. The series covers both Western and post-communist states and is essential reading for all students of the contemporary democratic process.