Communication non publiée
Broadening the Appeal and Opening Up the Party: A Comparison of the British Labour Party and the French Parti Socialiste
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New Orleans, ÉTATS-UNIS
political parties, primaries, France, UK
In the last few years, the French PS and British Labour have decided to respond to sinking levels of mobilization through the introduction of procedures allowing members and supporters to take part in the selection of their leaders. Whilst these could be interpreted as in direct conflict with party traditions and with the central, almost mythical, figure of the party activist, these changes have been justified as a deepening and broadening of intra-party democracy. Within the framework of theories of party change, the paper will analyze how British Labour and the French socialist party have sought legitimacy through inclusivity (reduced fees, supporters networks, OMOV, primaries,). Though often presented as 'natural' consequences of the modernization of parties, we will assess the extent to which their adoption rests on endogenous or exogenous pressures to adapt (role of think tanks and the media, internal competition and personalization of politics within a presidential context) or to respond to stimuli (electoral defeat). As representative democracies are faced with a crisis of trust in its institutions and actors, these experiments raise questions about models of party organizations as interface between civil society and the state.