The Cyber Party: The Causes and Consequences of Organisational Innovation in European Political Parties

Type: 
Paper
Date: 
Apr 2001
Citation: 

Margetts, H. (2001) The Cyber Party. ‘The Causes and Consequences of Organisational Innovation in European Political Parties’, ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Grenoble, 6-11 April.

by Professor Helen Margetts (UCL)

Paper to workshop ‘The Causes and Consequences of Organisational Innovation in European Political Parties’ at European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR) Joint Sessions of Workshops, Grenoble, 6-11 April 2001.

This article explores the pressures and possibilities for political parties in the age of widespread use of the Internet. It identifies internet-fuelled trends in political activity which affect party organisational development and proposes the ‘cyber’ party as a new ‘ideal type’ of political party. Cyber parties are organisations rather than institutions, to which voters with multiple preferences offer support according to context. They are characterised by technologically-aided relationships between party and voters rather than formal membership. The article considers some of the possible threats posed by the emergence of the cyber party. It concludes that a cyber party that develops a stronger relationship with its voters (rather than mourning the ‘golden age’ of the mass membership party), could be a positive development in democratic terms. Parties which do not respond to competitive pressures to increase their nodality through innovative use of available technologies may be more likely to face decline.

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