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Cartelization and party change in social democracies: a comparative perspective on the Parti Socialiste (PS), Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE), and Partito Democratico (PD)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2017

Davide Vittori*
PhD Candidate, Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali “Guido Carli”, Department of Political Science, Rome, Italy
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In the last decades, the cartel party theory has been one of the most discussed topics in the academic literature on political parties. Several publications have dealt with the application of the theory at the systemic level, using a country as a unit of analysis. Less attention has been given thus far to the party level. This analysis is aimed at improving the study of the cartel party theory by focussing on the transformations of three social-democratic parties in Europe: the Parti Socialiste in France, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español in Spain, and the Partito Democratico in Italy. The main findings in this work will not confirm in toto the theoretical assumption of the cartel party, in particular as regards membership and, in part, political convergence. Albeit declining, membership has been resilient in the last two decades. Despite a clear-cut convergence in EU-related issues, political manifestos of mainstream parties have shown a certain degree of polarization. Finally, while the three parties under examination rely almost entirely on public subventions, political parties proved to be capable of reforming the public funding laws, increasing the transparency of donations and reducing the total amount of public subvention.

Research Article
© Società Italiana di Scienza Politica 2017 

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