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Is it Possible to Speak of Transnational Parties?


  • Bjarte Folkestad


With increased level of globalisation and Europeanization in society, political parties are faced with new challenges in how to organise themselves. But these changes also apply for political scientist, in the sense that one must (re)consider the theoretical framework in understanding the nature of political parties. This paper analyses different theoretical perspectives on political parties, with particular focus on the ontological status of parties. Examining cleavage-oriented and more functionalistic-oriented perspective the role of the nation-state vis-à-vis political parties is depicted. The role of the nation-state in social science has also been under scrutiny for some time, and has lead several researchers to argue that social science is dominated by what is dubbed as ‘methodological nationalism’. The question is whether the theories on political parties assume that there exist a nation-state or if political parties are possible without it or at transnational level? Following this debate a cosmopolitan perspective is used as a starting point in evaluating how cleavage-based theories of political parties can be used in explaining transnational parties. The paper concludes that from both a cleavage and functionalistic perspective a transnational party seems possible, but that the reasons for this are based on different ontological views of what a party is.

Suggested Citation

  • Bjarte Folkestad, 2008. "Is it Possible to Speak of Transnational Parties?," EUROSPHERE Working Paper Series (EWP) 8, Eurospheres project.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:ewpxxx:p0032

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