Sunday, March 12, 2006

Are Political Parties in Decline?

I read the following article over at the Hill Times [Hill Times, Political parties in state of deep decline, political operatives say]:
"Political parties have been in a general state of decline for some time," according to a discussion paper released last week by the Public Policy Forum and Crossing Boundaries written by Graham Fox. "While they retain some capacity to bring people into the democratic system and--by and large--do elections well, their capacity to be more than electoral machines has severely declined."
Do you think political parties are becoming irrelevant or out-of-touch with individual Canadians? Obviously political cynicism is to blame for a lot of feelings of contempt towards political parties, but do you have any other suggestions on how to get individuals involved in the political process?

I have a couple of micro-suggestions (well below curing what ails the Canadian political system).
  • Most political party riding associations are only active during election time. At which point, they're out begging for donations, calling for individuals to support a candidate, knocking on doors during Survivor and phoning constituents during dinner. I think if riding associations became more active in their communities during the "off-season", they would show that they're not just about getting some yahoo elected. Perhaps riding associations could get involved in community events - sponsoring charity work, community activism, etc.
  • Some political party riding associations usually rely on a core group of association veterans to lead volunteer and contribution efforts. New ideas and new methods are usually frowned upon. Worse still, volunteers who actively supported a different candidate for nomination are sometimes turned away.
I have another suggestion, but I'm going to devote another post to it.

Updated: 604 Plonker, from I didn't get where I am today..., has an article entitled "Britain to tackle democratic apathy - is Canada next?", discussing the political party problem in the United Kingdom. Very interesting read.

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2 comments:

Devon Rowcliffe said...

You may be interested in having a peek at my post about the "Power to the People" report in the UK, which comments on how single-issue groups are becoming much more popular , while traditional political parties are in fast decline.

Cheers.

Jim said...

Very interesting post.