The Differentiation of Parties through the Lens of an Electoral Campaign


Abstract


Parties restructure their organizations to prepare themselves for new challenges. In many cases, the changes involve a reduction of the subsystems structure, dropping the number of territorial units or finding leaner solutions and outsourcing of activities which were once fulfilled within the boundaries of the party organization. Specifically, the phenomenon of outsourcing concerns, on the one hand, aggregation of interests and policymaking and, on the other, electoral mobilization and management of political communication. Looking for new solutions – flexible, without a unique centre – can lead to a process of de-differentiation that characterizes organization in postmodern society: a new definition of levels of hierarchy and "transgression of boundaries", through a continuous exchange of resources with the environment, which is unpredictable and constantly changing. As in other organizations, parties en-courage the formation of horizontal links with new external actors - associations, informal groups, indi-viduals and influencers - in order to build networks that cooperate to exchange essential resources for the party itself. In this framework, the study aims to interpret de-differentiation in political parties from a specific point of view: the analysis of political campaigns as indicators of this process. The “outside campaign”, created by a set of non-party actors, is growing: the sector of organized interests, that, unlike in the past, is "de-aligned" from the political parties and does not respond to traditional socio-political cleavage, is present in parties and candidates’ campaigns with greater resources than was the case formerly.

Keywords: Parties; de-differentiation; networking; outside campaign; European election

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