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The party in time

White, Jonathan (2017) The party in time. British Journal of Political Science, 47 (4). pp. 851-868. ISSN 0007-1234

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0007123415000265


Trends of falling membership and support spell a time of crisis for political parties, possibly of transformation. Dilemmas of principle arise: should partisans revise their normative commitments in whatever way garners new supporters, or would that be to sell their party’s soul? This article investigates this as a problem of intergenerational obligation, examining what consideration (if any) partisans owe their party’s past and future. It seeks to show the limits of conceiving partisanship as a ‘presentist’ activity that is legitimately governed exclusively by the concerns of the present generation, and argues that it must include some notion of showing loyalty to the actions of predecessors and advancing the prospects of those to come. Two corresponding norms of ethical partisanship – fidelity and sustainability – are outlined and discussed. The article’s goal is to refine our concept of what a party is, and in so doing contribute to a broader ethics of activism.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2015 13:38
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:23
Projects: EURIAS
Funders: Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study

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