chapter  1
46 Pages

The Dilemma of the Volkspartei

WithDiane L. Parness

The Volkspartei strategy portended wide-ranging adaptations m the party's political style and scope. The prosperity and failure of European political parties have long been wed to their ability to tap social, economic, and often regional cleavage patterns. Long before there was talk of post-industrial or silent revolutions, social scientists were pondering the causes of a breakdown in traditional modes of membership activity and involvement that had sustained political parties since the early 1900s. Experiences with a new environment and greater mobility along the social ladder could also undermine traditional values and political ties that were the bedrock of social networks in small communities. Postmaterialism's new agenda continues to fluster a party whose electoral pitch is anchored in traditional class divisions, because too many of the critical issues on the new agenda fall between the cracks of the old electoral cleavages.