Private Association and Public Brand: The Dualistic Conception of Political Parties in the Common Law World
(2014) Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy ‘Political Parties, Partisanship and Political Theory,’ Special Issue, Forthcoming
18 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2013
Date Written: 2014
This paper examines the legal conception of political parties. It does so by unearthing the history and ontology of the common law relating to political parties, in international perspective. The flexibility of the unincorporated association, in which parties are understood through the private law of contract as networks of internal rules or agreements, rather than as legal entities, has proven to be a mask. In the common law’s imagination, the ideal party is a ground-up organisation animated by its membership. But the law mandates no such thing, and in its statutory and constitutional conception intra-party democracy is sublimated as parties need be no more than an electoral persona or brand.
Keywords: comparative regulation of political parties, legal status of political parties, common law of politics, intra-party democracy, membership-based political parties, political parties as brands, freedom of association
JEL Classification: K3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation