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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Democracy Beyond Parties


This paper is concerned primarily with the way in which the changing character of political parties impacts upon their standing, legitimacy, and effectiveness. We see an emerging notion of democracy that is being steadily stripped of its popular component–a notion of democracy without a demos. As I try to show in this paper, much of this has to do with the failings of political parties. I am not suggesting that there has been a wholesale failure of parties; rather, I am seeking to draw attention to an ongoing process in which there are party failings, and in which democracy itself tends to adapt and change to these failings. This process then provokes its own momentum, in which parties become steadily weaker, and in which democracy becomes even more stripped down.

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