Constitutionalizing Party Democracy: The Constitutive Codification of Political Parties in Post-war Europe

Authors: Ingrid van Biezen | Published in: working paper series on the legal regulation of political parties, no. 03, November. | Date of publication: 2009


This paper analyzes the process of party constitutionalization in post-war Europe, arguing that the constitution has become an important source of party law. It explores the temporal patterns of party constitutionalization and reveals their connection with incidents of fundamental institutional restructuring. It furthermore advances different models of party constitutionalization, and addresses the question what these convey about the underlying conceptions of party democracy. It argues that the constitutionalization of the democratic importance of parties enables them to turn to the state for legitimacy and for organizational resources, thereby turning parties into quasi-official public agencies, and suggests that the constitutionalization of parties might reflect an attempt to legitimize their existence in the face of their weakening as agents of democratic representation.

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