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Introduction

Reilly, B. (2008) Introduction. In: Reilly, Benjamin and Norlund, Per, (eds.) Political parties in conflict-prone societies: Regulation, engineering and democratic development. United Nations University Press, Tokyo, pp. 3-24.

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Abstract

Political parties have long been recognized as essential components of representative democracy. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how the governance of modern states could be accomplished without meaningful political parties. By organizing voters, aggregating and articulating interests, crafting policy alternatives and providing the basis for coordinated electoral and legislative activity, well-functioning political parties are central not just to representative government but also to the process of democratic development in transitional democracies.

Parties perform a number of essential functions that make democracy in modern states possible. Ideally, they represent political constituencies and interests, recruit and socialize new candidates for office, set policy-making agendas, integrate disparate groups and individuals into the democratic process, and form the basis of stable political coalitions and hence governments. Collectively, this means that political parties are one of the primary channels for building accountable and responsive government.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: United Nations University Press
Copyright: Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI), International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), and United Nations University (UNU), 2008
Publishers Website: http://www.unu.edu
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/23287
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