The Partylaw Database

About the database

The database of party regulation contains the textual references to political parties as they can be found in a selected body of party law - i.e. national Constitutions, Party Laws, and Party / Political Finance Laws - in democratic European states. Full texts of the latest constitutions and laws (English version) can be accessed via the ‘Legal texts' page on this site (click here). For an outline of the chronology of party regulation and an overview of the main descriptive statistics, click here (click here).

Which countries are included in the database?
The database includes all European democracies, i.e. countries classified as ‘Free' by the Freedom House at the end of 2008, with the exception of smaller states with a population under 100,000. These include the following 33 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom as well as the European Union.

Which laws are included?
The database includes all articles from the national Constitutions of all post-war democratic European states (1944 - 2009) which make reference to political parties, including constitutional amendments. It also includes all Party Laws and Party Finance Laws, as enacted when they first came into force, and as they are currently in force (reference date for current laws: January 2012).
Operational definitions: The Constitution is taken to be the written law which is commonly referred to as the constitution or the basic law, and which is codified in a single text. A Party Law is a law specifically concerned with the regulation of political parties, and which includes ‘party' or ‘parties' in its title. A Party Finance Law or Political Finance Law is a law specifically concerned with the regulation of the financing of political parties or the political process, and which includes party or political finance or equivalent in its title. For each country, the database contains all legal references to political parties contained in these laws, as well as the particular dimensions of regulation. Note that other types of law which may affect political parties, such as electoral laws, media laws or the civil code, are not included.

How to search the database?
The database is searchable by country, period, type of law, key word and category of regulation. The dataset identifies several dimensions of party regulation, whereby each legal reference in the database has been assigned to at least one category. Coding has been carried out twice by different coders in order to ensure the validity and reliability of the content analysis.

Democratic principles: references that define the democratic system and / or key democratic principles and values, such as competition, equality, participation, pluralism, or popular sovereignty, in terms of political parties.
Rights and freedoms: provisions which identify political parties as voluntary associations belonging to the private sphere, and outline their position in terms of essential democratic civil rights and liberties, such as the freedom of association, assembly, activity and speech.
Activity and behaviour: rules about permissible types of activity and behaviour, including conditions stipulating respect for the democratic constitutional order, national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the prohibition of non-democratic or violent methods, and respect for human and minority rights.
Identity and programme: rules about the permissible ideological or programmatic identity of political parties, including provisions about respect for democratic principles, national sovereignty, as well as provisions about racial or ethnic identities, religious identities, and regionalist or nationalist identities.
Extra-parliamentary party: rules which apply to the extra-parliamentary organization, or the political party as a whole, including provisions concerning internal party democracy, membership (in)compatibility, and the party's organizational structure.
Electoral party: rules which apply to political parties in their electoral capacity, including provisions relevant to candidate recruitment and selection, the electoral rules on the distribution of parliamentary seats and electoral thresholds.
Parliamentary party: rules which apply to parties as parliamentary groups, including provisions concerning the composition of the national, regional and local legislatures, membership of parliamentary (sub)committees, parliamentary support staff, or thresholds for parliamentary group size.
Governmental party: rules which apply to the party in government, including references to the composition of national governments or regional and local executives.
• Party financing: rules which apply to the financing of political parties, including public and private funding, regulation of expenditures and regulation on reporting and disclosing financial activities.
External oversight: rules which deal with the monitoring of party activity as well as the interpretation of their lawfulness and constitutionality of party activity and identity by external agencies.
Media access: provisions regulating the availability and access of political parties to the broadcasting media.
Secondary legislation: provisions stipulating the further regulation of political parties in secondary legislation and / or by-laws.

How to use the database
The database can be accessed from the main menu by clicking on the Search Database option, or by clicking the Database tab at the top of the page. The database can be searched by keyword, country, type of law, period and (sub)category. Key word searches should use the 'z' where it has generally replaced the 's' (e.g. 'organize'). Each search can be performed on multiple items (key words, countries, categories and laws) at the same time. Results can be downloaded and exported by selecting the relevant articles and then clicking on the Export to Excel button. The database includes all constitutional provisions referring to political parties from 1944 until 2009, as well as the entire contents of the first and current political party laws as well as party finance laws (as of 2012). All individual articles have been registered on individual records. For further assistance, please contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the page.

To cite the materials from the database 
Biezen, Ingrid van (2013). Party Law in Modern Europe. Database available at