Many studies have shown that the Political Parties of today have changed significantly in the past few decades, both in industrialized countries and in the developing nations (third world countries). The changes have inadvertently resulted in the weakening of connections between citizens and the state, however, there remains widespread consensus that political parties are essential elements in democratic societies.
A statement made 50 years ago by E.E. Schattschneider was that, "Political parties created democracy and that modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of parties. As a matter of fact, the condition of parties is the best evidence of the nature of any regime. The most important distinction between democracy and dictatorship can be made in terms of party politics. The parties are not therefore
Recently, Alan Ware viewed political parties as pervasive elements in contemporary societies saying that, "In contemporary states it is difficult to imagine there being politics without political parties. Indeed, in only two kinds of states today are parties absent. First, there are a few small, traditional societies, especially in the Persian Gulf, that are still ruled by the families who were dominant in the region they control long before the outside world recognized them as independent states. Then there are those regimes in which parties and party activities have been banned; these regimes are run either by the military or by authoritarian rulers who have the support of the military."2
In consonance thereto, here are some prevailing views made by some of the participants in a conference convened by the National Endowment for Democracy's International Forum for Democratic Studies where in attendance were many of the world's leading political parties scholars and practitioners held in Washington DC to "Address the Current and Future Prospects of Political Parties."
One of the prevailing views made as articulated by Juan Linz stating that," Today, in all countries of the world, there is no alternative to political parties in the establishment of democracy. No form of nonparty representation that has been advocated has ever produced a democratic government. Thus we are faced with a world of democracies based on parties."
However, there were conflicting views made in the same forum to the effect that political parties are necessary for democratic development. Phillipe Schmitter on his part provided the most critical statement saying that, " Political parties are not what they used to be. They no longer structure electoral choices as clearly and decisively, command citizen attachments as passionately, form distinctiveness,
or aggregate interests as widely and explicitly as they once did. Clearly, political parties everywhere,
both in the industrialized countries and in the developing world, are becoming less and less able to
perform these core functions. In short, they are no longer indispensable for the consolidation and perpetuation of democracy."
In view of the foregoing facts let us now analyze