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The problem with party finance : theoretical perspectives on the funding of party politics

By Jonathan Hopkin


This article presents some theoretical contours for the study of party finance and its consequences. Two broad issues are explored. First, the article develops an account of changes in patterns of party finance, and in particular the move away from the ‘mass party’ model of funding towards ‘elite party’ and ‘cartel party’ models. Party finance is conceptualized as a collective action problem, and four ‘post-mass party’ financial strategies are identified. Second, the article addresses normative issues, assessing how these four financial models perform in terms of ‘liberal’ and ‘populist’ theories of democracy. It is concluded that the mass party model remains closest to the ‘democratic’ ideal, whilst the state-financed (‘cartel’) model is a reasonable pragmatic response to the decline in party membership

Topics: HG Finance, JC Political theory
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1177/1354068804046911
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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