Species of Political Parties: A New Typology

Journal Articles

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Party Politics, Vol. 9, page(s): 167-199

March 2003

21763 small party politics

For nearly a century, political scientists have developed typologies and models of political parties in an effort to capture the essential features of the partisan organizations that were the objects of their analysis. The end result is that the literature today is rich with various categories of party types, some of which have acquired the status of 'classics' and have been used by scholars for decades (e.g. Duverger, 1954; Kirchheimer, 1966; Neumann, 1956). We believe, however, that the existing models of political parties do not adequately capture the full range of variation in party types found in the world today, and that the various typologies of parties, based on a wide variety of definitional criteria, have not been conducive to cumulative theorybuilding. This article, therefore, is an attempt to re-evaluate the prevailing typologies of political parties, retaining widely used concepts and terminology wherever possible, consolidating and clarifying party models in some cases, and defining new party types in others. This is for several reasons.

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