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

Authors: Ingrid van Biezen | Published in: British Journal of Political Science 42(1), pp. 187-212. | Date of publication: 2012


This article analyses the process of party constitutionalization in post-war Europe. It explores the temporal patterns of party constitutionalization and reveals their connection with moments of fundamental institutional restructuring. It discusses the different modes of party constitutionalization, and addresses what these convey about the underlying conceptions of party democracy. It argues that the constitutional codification of political parties has consolidated both the empirical reality of and the normative foundations of modern party government, thereby transforming political parties from socio-political organizations into integral units of the democratic state. Finally, it suggests that the constitutionalization of the democratic importance of political parties might reflect an attempt to legitimize their existence in the face of their weakening as agents of democratic representation.

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