For a long time analyses of political parties were framed within the usual context of democracy and of the historical transformation of the forms of democratic government. More recently several authors, among which eminently Peter Mair, progressively began to question the relationship between the normative definition of democratic government and the actual operation of parties. These new concerns are well epitomized by the tension between ‘responsiveness’ and ‘responsibility’ that gives the title to this book.
While classic democratic theory sees as desirable that parties in government (and in opposition, too) are sympathetically responsive to their supporters first and more generally to public opinion and, at the same time, responsible toward the internal and international systemic constraints and compatibilities, these two roles seem to have become more difficult to reconcile and even increasingly incompatible.
The chapters of this book explore the tensions between responsiveness and responsibility decomposing the international sources from the domestic sources and discussing the options and the possibilities for political parties to continue to play the role of provider of political stability in rapidly changing domestic and international environments.
This book was published as a special issue of West European Politics.
1. Responsive and Responsible? The Role of Parties in Twenty-First Century Politics Luciano Bardi, Stefano Bartolini and Alexander H. Trechsel Section 1: The Interdependence Challenge 2. Responsible Party Government in a World of Interdependence Richard Rose 3. Testing Times: The Growing Primacy of Responsibility in the Euro Area Brigid Laffan 4. Responsible Government and Capitalism’s Cycles Dorothee Bohle Section 2: The Domestic Challenge 5. Democratic Performance of Parties and Legitimacy in Europe Hans Keman 6. The Non-Procedural Determinants of Responsiveness Leonardo Morlino and Mario Quaranta 7. The Populist Challenge Hanspeter Kriesi 8. A Question of Time: Responsive and Responsible Democratic Politics Klaus H. Goetz Section 3: Adaptation or Failure? 9. Failing Political Representation or a Change in Kind? Models of Representation and Empirical Trends in Europe Jacques Thomassen and Carolien van Ham 10. Ideology, Parties and Social Politics in Europe Maurizio Ferrera 11. ‘Stripped Down’ or Reconfigured Democracy David M. Farrell