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Joseph LaPalombara, "Reflections on Political Parties and Political Development, Four Decades Later," Party Politics, 13 (March 2007), 141-154.

First paragraph:
I am flattered, as would be my lamented friend and colleague, Myron Weiner, by the attention that this conference may call to the symposium volume he and I edited four decades ago. Weiner's and my first direct encounter with political parties and electoral politics occurred during our graduate student years at Princeton. We were retained to do some opinion surveys for a leading Democrat, who was then making his first stab at becoming New Jersey's governor, a position he was later to occupy.

Figures and Tables:
None.

Last Paragraph:
Even so, several of the conference papers reassure us that, in many of the transitional democracies, the political parties do indeed play a vital role in shaping the parameters, the velocity and presumably the eventual direction of political development in many of these places. A mere reading of the daily press will remind us that in those places around the world where political competition appears to be the most intransigent and violent, it is the political parties, more than any other institution, that play a vital mediating role. Without them, elections would be chaos and anarchy would follow. Historically, in the West as well as elsewhere, this has been the strongest contribution that parties, party leaders and party systems have made to democratic political evolution. The lingering question, for which conference papers provide some tantalizing hypotheses, is whether this mediating role can survive in a new context where so many other social organizations are able to compete with the parties as never before anywhere on earth.

last updated February 2007