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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Political parties have been conceived variously as teams of candidates, of ideological activists, or of groups of voters. Their goals range range from winning office or controlling government to implementing a shared vision of policy. But candidates, activists, and voters often have conflicting goals, and a desire to control government may conflict with a particular conception of “good” policy. This chapter considers how these conflicts play out in parties as organizations. Parties are the means by which democracies present, simplify, and differentiate competing visions of governance. They also may be the most fundamental informal institutions in democracies. Public choice conceives of individuals as pursuing goals, with plans and institutions used to the extent that individual goals are advanced; this is the “parties as effective” argument. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, so organized interests focus their power on the policy process.

Keywords: democracy, election, legislature, party, political strategy, representation, turnout

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