Two Variants of the Digital Party: The Platform Party and the Networked Party


Abstract


This article focuses on the impact of online participation platforms on the internal organization and democracy of a set of emerging political parties such as the Five Star Movement, Podemos, France Insoumise, the Pirate Parties and Barcelona en Comu. Taking cue from the recent publication of Paolo Gerbaudo's book The Digital Party, the article argues that digital parties can be divided in two ideal party types: the platform party and the networked party. Whereas the platform party is highly centralized, led by a charismatic leader, and strictly focused on the electoral competition, the networked party is a more decentralized ideal party type, which allows policy proposals and leadership positions emerge from the network itself. The article concludes by noting that while it would be easy to cast these two variants of the digital party as an alternative between political realism and political idealism, both types of parties face symmetrical challenges such as how to move beyond plebiscitarian consultations and how to scale deliberation from the local level to the national level.

Keywords: digital party; platform party; networked party; intra-party democracy; digital democracy

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