Changing Parties: An Anthropology of British Political Party by F. Faucher-King

By F. Faucher-King

Political events in Europe face a challenge of legitimacy, which manifests itself via a decline in partisan identity, a rise in electoral volatility and a drop in club figures. the improvement of latest technique of verbal exchange has remodeled the way in which political events relate to their components. in recent times political campaigning has develop into extra centralised and extra expert. Florence Faucher makes use of her learn into occasion meetings as a automobile for analyzing the adjustments that events are present process as they supply a microcosm for the examine of relationships among get together leaders and their fans: it really is the place coverage is set upon and constructed and the place aid for these plans is initiated.

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Extra resources for Changing Parties: An Anthropology of British Political Party Conferences

Sample text

Indeed, they are treated as special guests. What makes these perks valuable is primarily the public recognition that accompanies them. Senior volunteers of the party have privileged access to politicians throughout the year and more than one occasion to drink champagne and socialise. Conference, however, allows them to enjoy these benefits in full view of everybody else. They can feel that they belong to the elite. These are legitimising acts (Barker, 2001) because the whole party participates in them.

Although recent successes under proportional representation confirm the role played by “first-past-the-post” in excluding them from national political visibility, their practices have contributed to limit the effectiveness of their organisation in a political environment increasingly dominated by the media and by the personalisation of politics. “Modernising” political parties? During the years I have followed them (1994–2003), British parties grew obsessed with change, partly because of the successes of New Labour.

Although the electoral system has successfully kept potential competitors at bay, small parties have relentlessly attempted to enter the field, demonstrating the strength of political mobilisation outside the traditional borders of conventional Westminster politics. Despite the odds, the oldest European Green Party has consistently presented candidates at general elections in order to force mainstream parties to pay attention to its ecological agenda. Conferences focus the attention of outside observers and it is difficult to imagine today a British political party without an annual conference.

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