The Strategic Adaptation of Party Organizations to the New Information and Communication Technologies: A Study of Catalan and Spanish Parties
Type of work: Communication
Categories:e-Politics | Politics and Political Science
This paper proposes some explanations of the differential institutionalization of new information and communication techniques (ICTs) in political parties based on a transactions costs approach. Against a traditional evolutionary approach to party change that presumes that there is some ideal-type of cyberparty toward which every party will evolve, this work assumes that party organizational responses will differ across parties according to different variables. That is, although the new technologies are changing the broader society, the specific environment faced by each party can differ and the pre-existing institutional characteristics of the parties will affect the parties’ adaptation.
This paper focuses on the two major Spanish (PP and PSOE) and Catalan parties (PSC and CDC) to illustrate the proposed hypotheses. In the period between the Spanish general elections of May 2008 and the summer many Spanish political parties held their party conferences. Some of the practitioners and political communication consultants had announced the emergence of a new kind of party or, at least, the introduction of new organizational forms within the parties to change in a more participative way their procedures for drafting political programs and policies to redefine the linkage of parties within society. As good cyber-optimists, the common feeling of these commentators was that the new ICTs are offering an unavoidable opportunity to penetrate and revitalize the structure of the political parties and make them more accountable to the public interest. After the apparent success and importance of internetcampaigning, some cyber-activists have tried to get formal recognition of their activity in their parties and while some party leaders have tried to promote the presence of the party in cyber-space. This paper describes how different parties responded to the challenge of cyber-activists and concludes that their ideology, their previous type of organization, the kind of linkage of the party within society and the way they interact can help us to understand their institutional party organizational adaptation to the new ICTs.