chapter  11
10 Pages

Looking to the future: practice and research in party support


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A number of the conclusions that follow from the preceding chapters may seem unremarkable: some of them reinforce existing knowledge. Many interesting questions remain. Notwithstanding globalisation, the universe of democracies is not approaching uniformity; there is no universalism in the sphere of party politics. The party systems remain diverse; some are far less competitive than others, and in many cases the situation may be too unpredictable to call. Moreover as research carried out by Gunther and Diamond (2001) into political parties suggests, there is no convergence on a single model of political party. In fact they indicated that a typology of five broad types – elite, mass, ethnicity-based, electoralist and movement parties – and 15 different species is needed to capture the diversity of party types around the world. Yet party politics has evolved and continues to evolve in different ways in different countries. Önis¸’s caution against extrapolating from the success of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party in crafting a coalition of Islamic and secular forces cutting across different socio-economic groups to the Arab countries in the Middle East bears repetition. Indeed Turkey’s own ability to sustain this particular party, let alone the party model it represents, far into the future is uncertain, especially if the country’s prospects of gaining EU membership were to recede and reverberations from that played out in domestic politics. Meanwhile in Africa the persistence of clientelistic state-society relations whereby parties mobilise political support even while proposing to implement globally sourced neo-liberal economic solutions, warns us against taking too seriously some of the more exaggerated claims made on behalf of narrowly economistic notions of globalisation and its political repercussions.