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Accountability of Political Party Elites: Intra-party Democratization in the New Zealand Alliance
Abstract and Figures
Political parties are essential to societal democracy and internal party democracy is a necessary complement to the democratic functioning of the polity. However, the democratization of parties is notoriously difficult and the accountability of elites is at the crux of this difficulty. This dissertation describes case study research into the problems of elite accountability in a political party and compares similar efforts in others. In New Zealand activists of the Alliance party made use of internet communication in their struggle to hold leaders accountable for unmandated action. The research traces the change in power from leaders to member networks as the communication regime changes from hierarchical to horizontal. It is argued that, through the use of computer-mediated communication, activists create a new regime of information flow in the organization so that the importance of the monopoly of organizational resources by officials is negated by the network capital of the activists. Through this transformational action activists overcome the heteronomy of a hierarchical structure in favor of the agency of members.
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