cfp: ‘Rethinking communist party model organisation’, proposed panel for PSA conference, Manchester, 14-16 April 2014

The following panel is proposed for the annual conference of the Political Studies Association of the UK, to be held in Manchester 14-16 April 2014 (see Proposals for papers should be sent to Yiannos Katsourides ( from whom further details may be obtained

Panel title: Rethinking communist party model organisation

Historically, European communist party organisations have been modeled along two paradigms: Leninist (military) and Gramscian (hegemonic). Both models have led to successful party organisations throughout Europe. The diluvial events of 1989-90 have put into question –among others- the communist party model as a viable project. Communist parties have, in general, failed in the post-1990 era to massify their structures and follow a Marxist ideological path at the same time. The dissolution of the socialist regimes has been shattering for the communist parties even if the impact on them has been uneven and resulted in a number of responses (March, 2008, p. 5; March and Mudde, 2005, p. 27; Bell, 1993, pp. 10-11): many parties renounced their communist label and developed towards the democratic left (Sweden); others transformed into full-fledged social democratic parties (Italy); some ceased to exist independently re-emerging as parts of ‘new politics’ parties (Netherlands); some Eastern European parties took on an increasingly nationalist-populist tinge (Serbia); many re-emerged as parties of semi-permanent coalitions either of a democratic socialist orientation (e.g. Spain) or as minor allies of social democratic parties (Bulgaria); and one group remained loyal to communism (Greece). Those parties remaining faithful to socialism suffered a huge decline in their membership and electoral influence, making survival even harder (Katz and Mair, 1992, p. 335).
The overall aim of the panel is to investigate the two strands of communist party models in two respects: (a) internal structure and membership involvement; (b) their relation to society as this was exemplified in the various affiliated and front organisations.
Several questions could be on the agenda (indicatively not exhaustively):
• Party interest-groups relationships (degree and form of linkage, change over time, etc.)
• Membership figures and participation
• The impact of Europeanisation on their model of organisation
• The treatment of internal factions and tendencies
• Relationships with trade unions
• The impact of technology and new life style on the forms of organisation
• The impact of the type of political system in each country
We welcome papers based on new empirical research in this field, whether single case (country) studies or comparative cross-national treatments.

Yiannos Katsourides, Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies of the University of London and University of Cyprus (

Alexios Alecou, Open University Cyprus.

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