Wojtas, K. (2006). The “marketing party” as a model for the development of contemporary political parties.. Středoevropské politické studie, 8(2–3), 187-224. Získáno z https://journals.muni.cz/cepsr/article/view/4176/6079
The political parties

Kinga Wojtas

Marketing parties as a model of development of contemporary political parties.


In this article is described a model of political party – it is called a“marketing party”. The term marketing party (is based on the model of market-oriented party) applies to newly rising parties the political product characterized with flexibility and readiness to adjust to changing expectations of voters.  Marketing parties should be understood as designed ones, being an answer for expectations of voters and appropriately modified to them – this way marketing parties profoundly use marketing theories. Following text aims to assess the extent to which the establishment of a marketing party model  is necessary, and to test the degree to which this model might be adequate for the political entities present today. This paper tries to explain the consequences of political parties’ marketing conception and the way it influences people’s understanding of political environment. Another question is whether that tendency is a chance for a renewal of modern democracy.


The political parties are dynamic in nature. According to C. Friedrich, their evolution is “the most dynamic processes in the whole space of political life (...), it is a constant change from one direction to another, the result of which is never the return to the original point” (Friedrich 1968:452, in: Mair 1997: 49).

The aim of this article is to present political parties that have appeared on the European political stage in the last decade and to compare them to the traditional model[1] with the aim of indicating their specific features. It should be underlined that the term "marketing party" itself is a new defining expression and thus does not constitute a separate category in describing political party scene within the field of political science. The role of marketing for existence of political parties is most often reduced to voting campaigns and communication. Meanwhile, marketing parties should be understood as designed ones, being an answer for expectations of voters and appropriately modified to them – in this meaning marketing parties profoundly use marketing theories.[2]

Therefore, the following text aims to assess the extent to which the establishment of a distinct model is necessary, and to test the degree to which this model might be adequate for the political entities present today. Thus the term "marketing parties" should be considered as a particular theoretical construct that needs to be analyzed rather than found as a categorized point of reference. The assessment that follows is thereby grounded on a supposition that this particular type of political entities has already entered onto the European public space. The article is supposed to answer the question whether those new political parties can be a model for a new path of development on the European political scene. The readers should take into consideration that all the arguments are probabilist in nature, because they are limited to pointing certain conditions allowing the creation of those particular parties, to analyzing the stimuli, which under specific conditions, might come to this particular trend. It is worth mentioning that marketing parties are the condensation of two different trends: one present since the 1960’s[3] and the other currently present among nearly all political actors whose success depends on the direct social support. We might define it not as a new tendency but as its new intensity – the attribute becoming a constructive feature.

The main goal of the article is to present the essence of marketing parties, however as it takes a model approach, real political entities may have specific characteristics that do not fall into the specified model.

One of the purposes of this article is to answer the following questions – will those “new parties” became an example for other European groups, what will be the consequences for the democratic system?  In particular, in what way the fact will influence the social commitment, namely the drive to become active within the community? It is possible to predict that those new parties can be described as “a modern and professional screen” build to accomplish purposes set by political leaders, sponsors and businessmen. This thesis will be proven with shortly presented arguments.

We need to explain the consequences of political parties’ marketing conception and the way it influences people’s understanding of political environment. Another question is whether that tendency is a chance for a renewal of modern democracy.

However, the main objective of this article is to specify political parties and, provided the classification is performed, to state whether they really exist as a common and uniform phenomenon that will give us the opportunity to distinguish a new party model. The next issue is to show their dissimilarity as compared to political parties existing earlier, and to provide a sound explanation of all the changes that have occurred. Finally, try to present their function nowadays and indicate some examples.

There might be a methodological problem that we will have to face. That is finding the border point, with the crossing of which, we might speak of a new development path – we must also answer the question of whether all the political parties follow this pattern nowadays.[4]

The analysis is a twofold one: one covers West-European countries (considering their similar level of social and demographic stratification) and post-communist countries (where we can observe certain similar social behaviors, yet, at the same time, substantial differences–all being the result of the previous period[5]). Both the conditioning and the functioning of political parties will be totally different within those two abovementioned parts.

As the examples of new events taking place on European political scene will be used chosen West-European groups as well as those from post-communist region. Their choice was a result of intention to show the particular  role performed by marketization of relations in party sphere. Thus Italian Forza Italia and Slovak ANO illustrate how groups are built on the basis of media – resours extremely important for the contemporary world. Lithuanian Labour Party is shown as an “investment” of entrepreneur’s group – product created as an element of economical strategy, built to extend the influence and proper effects on other sectors. Polish Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska - PO) in the moment of its creation (January 19th, 2001) was an economic party, it also represents the group that decided to treat its ideological dimension as a distinctive competence. Whereas the other Polish force Demokraci.pl is used as a „rebranding” trial – rebuilding the brand. Also PO may be interpreted to some extend in that category. Slovak Smer demonstrates kind of a party established in opposition to existing political forces, as “pragmatic” alternative that contests dysfunctional fulfilled with ideology parting order.

Parties used as examples of marketing groups or of evolution of existing forces in direction of political marketing might be analyzed also on the basis of circle of product’s life. Still, marketing rules are practically used, these are consideration of consumers’ needs while creating new product (Smer, Lithuanian Labor Party) and meeting consumers’ needs in final stage of product’s life (Foxall and Goldsmith, 1998: 29) (Demokraci.pl).             

What is the essence of marketing parties?

Firstly basic categories used in his article should be explained. Few questions need to be answered: what is marketing, what are political parties and what is the origin of specifics of “marketing parties”. According to Kotler and Armstrong marketing is “understanding, creation, communication and supplying goods and satisfaction to clients for gaining profits” (Kotler, Armstrong, 2001: 5 in: Lilleker , Negrine, 2001: 3) as well as ”holding constant touch with organization’s consumers, read their needs, develop “product” that meet these needs and build a programme of communication to express the organization’s purposes”(Kotler, Levy (1969); 15, in: Lees – Marshment (1), 2001:  1083).

Whereas political marketing means activities, in which organizations adjust marketing strategies, normally used in regard to products and services, to accomplish their own goals.

First of all I would like to emphasize that the term “marketing parties” does not appear as a distinct category in the political theory. Moreover, political marketing is very often identified as a marketing method used occasionally during the election campaigns. It is used more or less by all political groups.

The majority of concepts about political marketing concentrates on political communication[6], which is a result of classical point of view saying that „Parties can best be conceived as means of communication“ (Sartori 1976: 28, in: Roemmle, 2003: 7),  „parties neglect utter usefulness and abundance of marketing theories” ”(Butler, Collins 1996:32-44, in: Lees – Marshment(1)2001: 1075) or limits themselves to voting campaign analyzes. If we consider only problematic of voting campaign, we might identify marketing groups with concept of “postmodern parties” (Farrell, Webb , 1998: 5-6), nevertheless, it would not allow to show the whole complexity of this phenomena.

In his article, to avoid reduction to communication techniques, the model of marketing parties treats political marketing as wider and more complex subject. „Comprehensive political marketing” (CPM ) [7], is used perspective. It is characterize with the usage of marketing to all aspects of political activity (Lees – Marshment (a), 2001: 1076.). Activity of political parties does not refer only to information transfer and reception – communication during  voting campaign. The usage of marketing perspective to political parties  reflects also on their organizational structure, leadership and inner management. (Lees – Marshment (b), 2001: 495) That does not change the fact that history of political parties is in a large part the history of changes in the field of political communications (Roemmle, 2003:8)

Market-oriented parties, distinguished by J. Lees – Marshment, are utilised for its generation. Their primary function is to satisfy voters.The category is based on one of the approach towards a consumer of goods, that is, the consumer needs fulfilment. According to this approach, the product is generated and modified accordingly so as to meet the customer's needs. The ongoing adaptability to given circumstances enables its continuing presence on the market (J. Lees – Marshment (b), 2001: 695). If a given political party adapts the approach, it may become, at least in theory, a competitive organ compared to other parties with no such approach taken. However, the approach cannot be utilised as effectively in terms of political market as in the case of the market of goods and services, which I shall discuss shortly.

Difference between market – oriented parties and marketing parties results from understanding marketing parties as new subjects in political sphere which use marketing rules. Meanwhile market – oriented parties will be understood as already existing parties, which start to adapt marketing techniques on higher level – “amount of marketing in party” (other attitudes are mentioned below). To clarify market – oriented party described by J. Lees – Marshment is more suitable term for already existing subjects that change strategy of competition on political market (British Labour Party). Whereas the term marketing party applies to newly rising parties the political product characterized with flexibility and readiness to adjust to changing expectations of voters.

The factor which distinguish marketing parties from market – oriented paries is also time (British Conservative Party) accepted marketing orientation in 1979 (Lees – Marshment (b), 2001: 706), while marketing groups, which were established as an answer for market necessity, occurred in 90’s (Forza Italia, Smer, ANO etc.). Important for specifics of marketing parties is also area where they were risen and started to achieve success. These are countries after transgression or political crisis. That is why Slovakia, Lithuania, Italy, Poland are mentioned. The example of viewpoint change for marketing might be British Labour Party [przypis]. Worth to notice is that setting up marketing groups is connected with open attitude of party system for new subjects. In systems with limited access to political market, existing groups adapt to strategy of market-oriented parties. The role of the crisis will be interpreted in the context of  chance to sustain such model.     

If we try to categorize clearly, we may say that the term of marketing party is subdivision of market – oriented party and regarding strategic usage of marketing it is the next stage for adjustment of marketing in public sphere. Consequently, it affects function of party groups in political system, change in this field is the most significant and fully demonstrates specifics of marketing parties.             

Market-oriented party is not the only one model of political group which base on marketing theory. J. Lees- Marshment points out also product -  oriented party and  sales – oriented party. The first one is built on an assumption  that the best product should be created with the lowest cost.  Voter receives completed product which can be accepted or rejected. Thus, such attitude is not focused on consumer but on creation of product  that would be the best in opinion of creators (it allows some negligence of consumer’s expectations). Obviously it cannot be applied to marketing parties, although it may show that such approach was characteristic for early development of political parties in public sphere or contemporary groups which strongly expose ideology ( Green Parties in 80’s, Communists and other groups that base on ideology).

 Sales – oriented party has the same origins as product – oriented party, however, it pays more attention to selling – “concentrated on selling its arguments to voters, it is a continuation of the previous type” (Lees – Marshment (a), 2001: 1076). It has more intensive contact with consumers than product – oriented party. It is aware that voters may not accept the party as completed, unchangeable product. It takes into account marketing researches for the choice of selling strategy and what is most important concentrates on communication or else mutual relation between party and citizen. (Lees – Marshment (a), 2001: 1076). Practically the second attitude, used by the majority of contemporary groups that use political marketing, approach them to sales-oriented party and is a part of mentioned above main course of discussion on the role of strategies – the one which emphases selling during voting campaign.     


J. Lees- Marshment created a scheme describing building process of marketing oriented party. It is valuable for abort marketing parties.


1. market intelligence                           2. product design                     3. product adjustment

4. implementation                              5. communication                            6. campaign                      

7. election                          8. delivery

See figure 1, J. Lees-Marshment (2001), The marriage of Politics and Marketing, “Political Studies”, vol.49, p.497.


There is a reference of social relations on the different level of political parties’ relations. According to Schattschneider, we can observe a process of forming the social choices structure (Schattschneider 1942, in: :/ Dalton R.J. 2002:5). The political parties are formed by the specific activities of individuals or groups of people who usually become leaders through those phenomenon. If we decide to use economical terminology, they constitute the supply side, whereas the society can be referred to as the demand side. As a result of social support, parties gain the electorate of  society[8]. In that case, it is essential to connect two types of activities: building the party by politicians and the will of citizens. That is the only way to bring in the party and fulfill its mission. It is also a very helpful factor to distinguish between some periods in the life-cycle of political parties. I will present a short analysis of changes that have influenced the shape of political parties and also determin the appearance of marketing parties.

Marketing parties function differently in comparison with the traditional ones. The most fundamental difference is that their structure, program, promoted values and promotion campaigns are the results of well-organized and well-thought marketing and sale strategy on the political market directed to a specific target. This is the reason why some categories used to describe behavioural patterns and functions of political parties might change. According to precede paragraph we can introduce such terms as: political product, market, political goods, price, distribution, promotion, sale, purchaser and the transaction (Muszyński, 2002). The term “political product” includes kind of leadership, members of parliament, members, candidates, organizational background, symbols, inner rules (Lees – Marshment (b), 2001: 496). Marketing from traditional parties’ view is “a method to present in an attractive way their program, constituting a synthesis of the party ideology, political doctrine, the review of present situation in all or some areas, development strategy and promises directed either to the whole society or to some of its groups, considering (underlined K.W.) their needs, interests, requests and aspirations” (Muszyński, 2002: 162). In that case, the political plan is a result of a critical estimation of a current public situation, distinguishing the main problems and presenting the methods of solving them. Marketing groups, on the contrary, use “well-thought activities that allow political parties to recognize current market situation, constituting the basis (underlined K.W.) for the decision to produce the good – in that case the party itself - and a suitable method to present it to the future target” (Muszyński, 2002: 98) to encourage a supportive vote. If we compare the two definitions it is obvious that they point to opposite directions of ranking, positioning and activities that characterize party’s functions. In case of the marketing parties we can observe the total change of the steps sequence, with the forming of a political appeal being an outcome.  Forming and introducing a new party on a political stage demands to do u really defeat a threshold? Moreover, it is a long and arduous process of a political and social aggregation. The moment when a party appears on a political stage is not instantaneous to moment of establishing connection with the society. Analyzing the political market before a party actually enters the political game, enables communication with the target as soon as the party makes it into the political reality. It is also possible due to all the changes that improved communication processes nowadays. In other words, firstly the political party has to be formed for the process of political and social aggregation to be executed. Undoubtedly, it is is a great advantage for marketing parties especially when they are in the process of formation. It is much harder to introduce a new commodity to the political market then to any other market.

Moving forward we can observe that members and the structure are not as important factor for marketing. The above is due to the fact that there is no value synthesis that was fundamental in terms of  a political party and very specific electoral needs. There is no compromise between electors’ needs and a party mission, which was a fundament for a lot of solutions presented to the society. Marketing parties resigned from presenting their own propositions – which is totally different than creating social preferences – yet they focus on determining listening to and adjusting to social needs. They are formed in the way the society wants them to be formed. The main activities are: adjusting the product to  social needs, tastes and expectations, the product distribution process, promotion processes such as advertising, public relations activities, sponsoring and media advertising (Muszyński, 2002: 98). Based on this information we can identify two basic changes: the first one is the method of building party program. The program is no longer seen as the synthesis of ideology and doctrine, a review of the actual situation and promises directed to the society (Muszyński, 2002: 78).  This new type of parties usually presents itself as having no ideological background –  for the explanation see the  next part of this text. The second change is their relations with  importance that a party has in the political sphere. Their active functioning a public environment is rather a distinct one– which might be a paradox, considering the fact that this feature defines their attractiveness. We can define marketing parties as “an ideal intermediary structure” with excellent sensitivity to social needs. On the other side, if we consider the prize for which political parties are fighting and other functions they are supposed to perform in a given political system – very often forgotten  – we must look very carefully and critically at the type of political entities.

To understand correctly the function of parties in the political world and on the political market we need to consider the issue from the right perspective, namely we should assume the point of view of parties themselves. In the light of the marketing electors are a group of completely diverse units of differential demographic and social segments with different social needs (Mazur, 2005:65). Earlier society was treated as a collection of different entities, yet since the crisis of mass parties took place, we can no longer talk about covering social divisions with political affiliation. That is why marketing groups have to define their electoral target by taking into consideration which part of electors will be most needed to win the expected amount of votes. This is the main factor that influences qualification and positioning of a given electoral offer (Mazur,2005:66-81).

Consumers’ groups are analyzes from different perspectives. Division of market to some extend may be based on or identified with devisions based on cleavages that characterize classical debate about development of party systems. Both party and candidate “cannot make electoral success dependant on belief that the voter will feel union with him either his party. Discovery of factors that can built such unison is inevitable part of success” (Newman, 1999, 259-282, in: Lilleker,  Negrine , 2001:5). An electoral offer includes two components: a candidate and a program. Both of them are the final product of a long-lasting process which includes the specific research and as a result of that a recognition and the best approach to the social expectation.

It does not mean that all the marketing groups are the same – if that was the matter, we could easily reduce our considerations referring to them with a very popular idea of “populism”. The main difference is the way populist parties function in a political environment, making their calculation that does not have a reflection in reality and speaking on behalf of exploited and frustrated masses. Marketing parties might find that it would be beneficial for them to target both well-educated and rich businessmen, who are not satisfied with the representation of their interests by current political groups, as well as single-parent families (fathers raising their children on their own). It is extremely important to convince future electors of different society levels to vote for a party. Prior to that, it is essential to choose such kind of an electoral group that would be enough to have a real influence on the election results.  With regard to marketing terminology, the point is to create a position of product on market, therefore achievement of particular image or position that specific product, political party, in consumers’ minds in each of target segment. In other words, the way in which the product is compared with competitive brands. Strategic marketing tools („4p”) are used to present in chosen segment of market clear image of group (product) so that consumers are able to recognize it as right brand for them and to distinguish it from other brands. Therefore spin doctors’ activities hale to be based on four fundamental fields – development of product, price (on electoral market it has its own specifics, which is desribed below), place of distribution and promotion – creation of unique product’s position in proper area of market (area of competitions) (Foxall, Goldsmith, 1998: 21). The aim of marketing is not only to sell but also to attract consumers’ attention to product, to create demand for it in proper time, way and for acceptable price (Lilleker, Negrine , 2001:5).

Another characteristic feature of the marketing parties  is that they build more new identities then any other groups – thus we can call them creators[9]. The next thing we can observe is that the changes in the world at present cause a dynamic political discussion about other matters as far as parties are concerned. That makes it obvious that marketing parties with their high sensibility and flexibility will follow the changes mentioned above. We might treat their program as a base. However it does not lead us to unification or the situation when all the parties become the same. Political environment is trying to acquire a state of balance, with every internal movement requiring this pattern of behavior that will bring the balance back. 

It is necessary to analyze the criteria given above which were used to classify political parties so far. The confrontation between political parties and their models will help us to present a lot of the similarities and differences. It will definitely make easier to answer the question – can we define marketing parties as a new political quality? Do we need new terms to explain them or maybe we can use the existing ones?


Table 1. Party models[10] and their characteristics:


Elite parties


Mass parties

Catch-all parties

Cartel parties

Marketing parties


19th century





Distribution level of political assets:

Highly limited

Relatively oriented

Weakly oriented

Relatively broad


Principal political goals:

Distribution of benefits

Social reform (or social reform protest)

Augmentation of social conditions

Politics as a profession

Politics as a transaction – marketing of politics

Fundament for party rivalry:

Status held

Capabilities held

Political effectiveness

Management capabilities, effectiveness

Effective image, promotion

Means of electoral rivalry:




Party assets held

Professional electoral apparatus

Means of party activity and campaign organization:


Concentrating on own work

Engaging own work and capital

Engaging capital

Engaging capital in relation to professionalism-oriented activities and cumulating of means during campaign period

Sources of financial assets:

Own sources

Member contribution and donations

Mixture of various sources (state subventions, interest group donations)

State subventions

State subventions, contributions

Relations between rank / file and party elites:

Elite = file and rank

„ circulation of elites” – elite responsible before the rank and file members

Top-to-bottom drive – elite organizes the activities of the rank and file

Degree of stratification – relative autonomy of levels

Elite as a managing center – often as a symbol of party image, decreasing role of membership. Hired professionals as a new-permanent group.

Nature of membership

Narrow and elite

Broad and homogeneous; membership as a logical consequence of identification, rights and duties follow

Membership open to all (heterogeneous) as a right but no duties follow; importance of individual member identification

Rights and duties do not spring from membership (status differences are not clear);feeling of belonging based on individual rather than on organized entities; members are valued as the support giving legitimization to the party

Candidate most key for the party. Party membership irrelevant, reaching the public during different electoral cycles becomes the primary goal. Catching attention above loyalty.

Channels of party communication:

Direct personal contacts

Party has internal communication channels

Party struggles to reach external (extra-party) communication channels

Party has legally regulated access to the mass media

Party has legally regulated access to the mass media; often uses informal means to increase its presence particularly in the mass media.

Party position between the civic society and the state

Unclear divides between the state and politically meaningful citizen groups


Party belongs to the society, sometimes as the representation of a new and important society segment 

Party as an actor and mediator between the society and the state

Party as part of the state

Party as a product for sale, adapting to social expectations (ever more of individuals that social groups), yet financially dependent on the state

Style of representation:

Trusted representatives



State agent


Based on: P. Mair (1997), p. 110.


The models indicated in the table have heuristic character, whichmeans that real objects existing in the political environment can have traits that differ from the presented pure forms. The same method will be used to explain the idea of marketing parties that have been added to the comparison proposed by P. Mair. In the part of the article I will try to compare the presented model to some existing European political parties that fulfill the marketing conception.

If we follow the evolution of political parties it seems clear that some changes within the society effect the internal structure and working methods of political parties. For example the introduction of universal right to vote definitely caused a lot of reforms in political parties. It was definitely one of the causes for forming mass parties. Another example might be the new type of catch-all groups on the political scene. The catch-all groups became issue-mediators, a role which the mass parties could not assume in their dialogue with the society. According to Kircheimer, who proposed that term, there are some characteristic features for catch-all groups, such as: reduction of ideological heritage, amplification of the leaders, decreasing importance of individual members in the party, no class identification and the important process of preserving relations with different interest groups (Kirchheimer 1966: 184-190, in: P. Mair, 1997 :37). Those ideas are very relevant for marketing parties. This is the reason why I want to analyze this issue more carefully.

The weakened connection with the society caused higher flexibility of electors’ behaviors. It is more and more visible that the main change that happened in mass[11] and catch-all parties was the choice of their organization (Panebianco 1988:264 in: Gunther, Ramón-Montero and Linz, 2002, :147). Panebianco presented this change from organizational point of view and he indicated that there had been a conversion from “mass – bureaucratic party” to “electoral-professional party”. The model he describes  presents the specific functions of marketing parties, and includes the following components: the role of professionals, appealing to the electoral opinions (not the party affiliation), flexible vertical party structure, more personalized leadership, funding from the budget and through the interest groups (Panebianco 1988:264 in: Gunther, Ramón-Montero and Linz, 2002, :147). The appearance of catch-all groups on the political stage with its high function of the party center and low connection with an average citizen was one of the most important factors that formed marketing parties and made them successful. There are a lot of ideas that marketing parties took from those groups defined by Kirchaimer (Kirchheimer, 1966), while their organization  structure  became more similar to electoral-professional parties. Neither the organization and structure nor the political purposes are the characteristic issues for marketing parties. Those specific attributes are the method of communication with the society and finding the right place and the right time for party appearing in public life. It was possible because a niche (demand) determined by relations: electors – party. The situation required the restoration of the connection between themThe success of the party was to give the society a hope for better future and thus gain election votes in response.  This connection could not stay for long and it could not be common anymore. Nowadays the elector is treated as an individual not as a member of social groups. He is making individual calculations, he foresees his personal gains and loses as a result of his political decisions (Antoszewski, Herbut 1997:70). The situations mentioned above related to the changes in communication process and could introduce the marketing concept of new political groups. The type of organization that was the most important for the previous evolution stages as it reflected the structure of potential electorate (Antoszewski, Herbut 1997:71), yet it is not important anymore. It can not fully present the idea of marketing groups. Especially because this type of parties is very active only in election periods – a typical behavior for mass groups. In marketing parties inner communication was limited while decisive process was developed, which resulted in “higher sensitiveness for voters’ opinions (Scammell,1995:12 in:  Lilleker,  Negrine, 2001: 10).

Model of marketing party appeals to already existing and defined elements parties’ types. On the whole, we may indicate a theory of rational choice by A. Downs (Downs, 1987) and growing specialization of voting background similar to electoral-professional party”. Whereas model Catch-all groups is not a main point of concern for marketing parties. They resign from ambitious plan of attracting the widest possible groups of voters and with help of marketing tools such as segmentation and targeting[12] they choose one group of voters which gives strong chance for electoral successHowever, likely is that electoral appeal will be sent to particular group , which formally could be more similar to communication used by class parties.  Attitude which assumes flexibility of electoral communiqué, choice of target group is next factor which distinguish marketing parties of market- orientated[13]. Similar ambiguity can be found in relation between marketing parties and cartel parties.  

Language is a very important issue in the relations between political parties and electors. Language helps to increase credibility of the party and gain social influence. Political practice corresponds with language code. We can even say that political practice creates a particular political language. Political reality determines the choice of language by political actors – that language should not only describe events but also form or even create them.

If we follow the changes in that area we can observe the redefinition of communication priorities in the public space. At the previous stage, this redefinition had to fulfill two tasks. The first one was to guide all the coordination, consultation and negotiation processes related to political elite. The main challenge for the party was not the agreement with the electors, who were attached to the party and were voting accordingly. The core of political communication was based on coalition bargaining – the agreement between politicians themselves. The second task was to limit and control a political participation, which is not as illogical and pointless as it might seem. The explanation for that type of behavior might be the will to decrease communication disturbance – higher social participation, very formal relations and strong internal structure was not the most desired situationGenerally speaking that definitely helped to secure the position of the “political class” (Croci, 2001:353). The language was very specific, reserved for the initiated – according to La Palombara it was “the language of a particular curia” (Palombara, 1987: 103) that was totally different from the regular one used in communicating with electors. This pattern of behavior changed in west European democracies with the appearance of the catch-all parties. The marketing groups show the political world as a simple and accessible environment and that determinates their language. G. Fedal proposes a critical analysis of the language used by politicians. It is related to the tendency of opening and simplifying political language. Fedal is referring to “panapoliticizm” of the language. That means that all kinds of speeches are treated as political ones and they all can be used for political purposes. This is the end of the specific political language[14].

One of the best examples of the changes and using marketing concept in politics is the Italian party Forza Italia. The communication of political class in Italy was more like the language of secret organizations since 1950’s. This party started with the name “Forza Italia” (Forward Italy). The name of the party symbolized the end of “membership party”. The name “Forza Italia” came from football, which is an extremely important issue in Italy. The sport enables Italian society to gather together and get the feeling of real community[15]. Sylvio Berlusconi – the party leader admitted that while he was looking for a proper communication strategy he was thinking of using religious symbols. The entrance to the political world was like a reaching for a “goblet of bitterness”. Finally he decided to use a less controversial variant – “the entrance onto the football field” (Televised broadcasting on Rete 4 Channel, January 26, 1994.: Croci, 2001. 359.). Moreover he was an owner of one of the football team. That fact definitely helped to increase his credibility[16]. The whole process of choosing the right language and words is a good example of the new tendency – analytical view of political market. Berlusconi accomplished the goal – he broke the isolation of political scene and brought it closer to the society. While the corruption scandals were making it out into the public in Italy in 1993, Berlusconi gained social trust and support as an effective businessman. He owned a commercial TV and a champion football team. That made his promises of an economic miracle awaiting Italy more credible (Croci, 2001: 360). The image of Berlusconi in the mass media (which he owned) was sometimes criticized. He was called “telecrat” or “videocrat” and the political system in Italy was referred to as “telecracy” and “videocracy”[17]. Berlusconi is a real professional if we talk about his knowledge of the Italian society. A great example for that might be his strategy of defense, at the time when he was accused of monopolizing political time and news in the mass media. He answered, that the future development of Italy is related to two things: family and enterprise. He is trying to use both of those values together as a “family enterprise”. He added that as a father of 5 children he had to secure them their future[18]. This speech might be also an example of the quality changes in political arguments and panpolicizm of the language.

Besides all the changes connected with language, it seems that political parties started to appreciate the importance of image. It is proven that the image goes directly to a person’s mind and it does not involve transforming or individual creation as is the case with a written message. This is why so many of those who purchase the political product base their decision on emotions. The images influence the decisions to participate in the political market transaction and to buy a certain product (Drzycimski A, 1996: 27). Political parties know how to use that kind of behavior in two ways. Firstly by creating the right image of politicians, especially party leaders[19], secondly by using the suitable graphic symbols. Nowadays we can observe that the society gets more and more symbol messages (especially commercials), a process that can be called it “bombardment”. That is why people’s reception is selective (perception and notice). So it is even harder to influence people’s motivation system (Inglik-Dziąk 2000: 37.) ,which in case of political environment means to vote for a specific party.

It is necessary to understand electors’ cognitive mechanisms determining the background of a successful political image. As we see changes, such as decreased sense of community, society atomization. Those behaviors result in more individual political decisions and more personalized views on politics.


At present we can distinguish some differences that are typical for marketing parties. One of them might be the different techniques used to build the political program and the promotion activities supported with adequate language and visual aids. It is also worth to mention that those strategies are chosen after a complex process of market research. We have to remember that the reality nowadays might change even the tendencies described above. It is all rather flexible.Therefeore it is important to distinguish the essence of marketing parties and mutable factors. The real essence and distinctiveness of marketing parties is their flexibility and competence to adapt their own priorities to the changing reality. Marketing theory defines the three components of the political good (party) as: the program, people and the ideology. The first two factors have been already described and thus I would like to focus on ideology. Defining ideological essence of those parties seems to be somewhat a problem. Taking much attention, we might try to create a definition in the term world view, or a group of ideas that gathered together as one strategic vision for political objects (Muszyński, 2002: 118). According to that we might present two methods of building ideology within the party. Firstly, the group becomes an answer to social demand. A party uses social demands and participates in a political competition to reach political control. All the social needs are transferred into classical political categories[20]. The example for that kind of behavior is the Slovakian ANO (Alliance Novego Obciana). It was founded in 2001 and fulfilled the social request for a liberal party[21]. Moreover, Pavel Rusko, an owner of a very popular television station “Markiza” became the leader of ANO.

The second method is an attempt to separate ideological factors from the party identity. It can be also considered as a strategy to reach a specific goal (it must be preceded by market research). The example for that method is Smer, the party mentioned earlier. Boris Zala – vice-chairman of that party has announced in one of the interviews: “The current situation in Slovakia is caused by this attachment to ideology. That does not allow us to be flexible, adapt to new conditions and solve problems. On the contrary, it means following the strict rules and doctrine”[22]. Those words were later verified by reality.   

Some parties have decided to use a strategy of presenting themselves as a “new political quality”. Their effectiveness will be tested at the level of European Parliament. If they want to get a stronger position in that institution they have to look for a suitable affiliation. One of the examples was Smer[23] (member of the socialist faction). It turned out that it was still very important to have a vision and not only a strategy. It  means that political parties sometimes must forget about their marketing qualities. If they do not follow the advice, they will become one of the parties with no political influence. It is not possible that the specific product that fulfills special needs of the society could be as interesting a product on European Parliament level. Especially, if we consider the fact that political market is rather closed at this level. Moreover, the new objects are usually verified by classical parties with the prevailing influence.

The lack of ideologically based identity, declared by some marketing parties is rather illusory. It is a tactic that may be an advantage only within internal political environment. Beside these strategic-tactical arguments, it is worth to mention some practical issues. It is almost not possible to separate a party from the fiscal policies it advocates, issues of social help and state influence on national economy. Having the opinion related to those issues, the party must be classified in an ever broader framework[24], as a right- or left-of-center on the political scene[25].


Why have marketing parties appeared on European political stage?

After the general description of political parties it is time to summarize all the factors and mechanism that influence those objects and their success or failure. Through some changes related to three main components: the issue of political leadership, the method of building political appeal and mobilization system and the organization of the party and its strategy of working, the parties became more similar making possible to transfer preferences between parties, even with traditional left- and right-of-center system division (Mair, 1997: 32).

I want to emphasize the relations between parties and electors. The type of language used is determined by the level of political loyalty. The weaker the loyalty the more open, simple and flexible is the language (Croci, 2001:362). This is a situation that facilitates the creation of marketing parties.

It is impossible not to mention the consequences of communication and technology revolution[26]. That brought to the society both advantages and disadvantages. The first one is the rapidity of information transfer and by that higher control of political life (at least according to the model approach), on the other side the simplification of cognitive mechanisms, less analytical perception of political messages through television and other media by clients – who at times become electors. G. Satori defined this kind of electors as “homo videns” – somebody who looks but does not think (Sartori, Il Manifesto, 21 May 1994.quoted in: Croci, 2001: 361). As a result “party voting” is getting less attractive as against “opinion voting” – which is actually the consequence of a marketing competition. The main goal of the parties being described is to get the attention and a vote during the election time. It is no longer an attempt to create long-lasting loyalty to the party. According to those arguments, we might presume that elector is not a rational person, he does not make a decision by himself/herself  and does not represent all the changes that have been happening in the public environment. To explain that situation we should focus on the electors of marketing parties, and where they are recruited from

Beside all the differences between marketing parties we can observe that they are directing their appeal to people who are standing aside and to those who are not politically involved. This appeal is supposed to encourage them to participate in political life and vote for marketing parties. They usually try to change (exploit) all the negative consequences of bad decisions in public environment.  Those parties could appear and be more or less successful due to the fact that they were able to motivate special kind of electors. Depending on the country and conditions, this kind of electors differ. In Slovakia – those are young people, in Italy – low middle class, in Poland,  youth, frustrated intelligent class and disappointed businessmen. We must remember that marketing parties define mobilization differently then mass parties. That does not simply mean that they increase the quality of democracy and create civic attitudes. Their political participation has two sides: active and passive. Marketing parties particularly stress active participation that means voting during elections. However routine and passive participation such as following the election campaign in the media is more important for those parties[27].

We have to mention institutional changes such as financing party from national budget and restitution of money spent on election campaign. That causes stronger divisions between parties and society. The parties are thus not dependant on the financial support coming from ordinary citizens. I have already presented the similarities to catch-all parties. Now I would like to compare it to another trend present among political parties in the 21st century – the process of cartelization. After Second World War, we can observe a new conception of political parties, their consequent institutionalization. As the result of those tendencies we notice stronger dependence on the state and weaker connection with the social support. The social support has become a problem in the management process and not a basis for party’s superiority. Without those close relations between party and the state[28] – donations for parties -  the changes in elector behaviors it would not be possible for marketing parties to use all the marketing techniques and be successful. It is also not sufficient to explain political marketing as the process of adaptation  to communication changes in a public environment. However, it is still important to get an electoral vote. This vote is treated not only as a pass to power acquisition, but also a pass to different kinds of resources. Cartelization might be a chance for marketing parties in post-communist countries. Their political market is more open than western democracies  and it is ruled by different principles. It is much easier to make it onto that market and find an access to state resources. Some political analysts (Szczerbiak, 2001:3) point to cartelization as a new negative tendency. They declare that parties become overly dependent on the state. On the other hand, this dependence is a chance for marketing parties to survive. It might be difficult for those types of parties to replicate their initial success. They may be successful in using marketing techniques for creating party identity and manifestation at the initial stage of electoral competition. Later on, at the level of governmental formation, it might be difficult to achieve. It can be a problem to adopt party principles as part of seeking out different compromises. The party that operates according to the “we-give-what-you-want” principle, is not treated as a serious partner during coalition discussions and thus has no credibility.


As  mentioned before, when we have to differentiate two environments when discussing the issues of fundaments of marketing parties – countries with stable democratic system and post-communism countries, where pluralism in political life caused favorable environment for free political competition. In those countries, we observe the transformation from dominant, mono-party system to free competition between all parties, followed by free-market orientation of political objects. Summing up the arguments related to the reasons behind the development of marketing parties, it is necessary to consider those differences, as well as appreciate the influence of similarities.

The consequences of the communist system (defined as a political, economic and social system, which was based on one authority, communist party, national economic system and total society subordination to the authorities (Grabowska, 2004: 99) in terms of the activity within the public space, might include: an increase of nationalism, no compromise culture, high social expectations towards authorities, cynicism and lack of trust towards public and political institutions, no ideology, moral confusion, sense of uncertain future (as a result of unemployment, and reduced state influence in the area of social benefits) (Holmes, 1997:15-21, in: Grabowska :98). The parties formed at the beginning of the transformation process were not able to deal with that heritage. Some of those tendencies were intensified and in some cases the medicine was more dangerous then the disease itself[29]. Moreover, those parties had to face new problems such as antagonisms between old partners, as well as internal conflicts within groups that once were rather uniform. That caused the lack of social interest for participating in political activities. On the other hand, it encouraged some new parties to appear on the political stage. Those parties emphasized that they have no relations with all those political disputes, and that they represent the society, understanding its discouragement, social needs and fears.                  


We observe some important changes within West-European democracies. For a long time the political market was functioning as a small market[30] with high loyalty and low voter transfer from one party to another. There was one way to make it onto that market – a political crisis which would destroyed existing political relations[31]. It  happened in Italy in 1993. That was the main cause that Forza Italia appeared on a political stage and became so successful. This party was presenting itself as a new political quality: it was not involved in the old system and corruption. This situation was called the end of the First Republic. Forza Italia was based on a fusion of its founder’s properties[32] and an analysis of social expectations. This party appeared on a political stage and three moths later it won the election.

That leads us to the question – maybe we just have found a recipe for a successful political group. The only thing we need is to unite the analysis of social needs and enough money for the promotion activities. In post-communist countries, there is one more very important factor we have to consider – the party leadership. . According to Dalton and Wattenberg young democracies in Central and Eastern European countries are the most suitable basis for creating those types of elector behavior. The election choices are very often based on the image of political leaders [33]. From the party point of view, it is the easiest way to build political message based on a leaderA vivid example to support this argument is Slovakia and Robert Fico. He became the framework for a party which could establish its identification around him (Cwalina, 2000 :60). In Poland that experiment did not succeed. Democratic Party is an interesting example of that failure. It is also a proof that market calculations are not always correct. Thus an attempt was made to apply a technique that in relation to the marketing theory of product life cycle[34] might be termed as modernization in the decline stage. Thus the product being modernized came in the form of the Freedom Union, which constituted the fundament for the establishment of the new party. The fact that for young people (especially first-time voters) the division between post-communism and post-Solidarity parties on the Polish political stage is not important, was not sufficient to build a new Democratic Party in Poland. Especially, if we take into consideration older voters who still acknowledge this division as crucial (Grabowska, 2004: 99. It was a big mistake to emphasize “departure from post-communist divisions” as an important advantage. Particularly that the party animators did not even consider one of the most important factors – voter turnout among the target group – in the case of that party, the young people[35]. This political project was supposed to be a synthesis of professional political vision – “party is a professional organization, cooperating towards one purpose and fights for something not against somebody”, and politics defined “as a competence of cooperation with the society, enabling the creation of a vision of common good, as part of a social discussion, gaining support for that vision, and taking the responsibility for implementing it” (http://demokraci.pl/index.php?do=standard&navi=0001,0003,28.09.2005.). Władysław Frasyniuk, the party leader, could not become its symbol. There were too many others important personalities holding party membership[36]. His image did not have much influence on the assuring social support. Another reason for the failure of the party, whose alternative name symbol took the form of “Demokraci.pl”, was its positioning on the political stage. Slovakian Smer was a party that appeared on the political stage in that country as the first marketing party in Slovakia. In Poland on the contrary, there already was a marking party present – the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska). This party could be compared to Smer. It was the first marketing party on the Polish political stage, it was new, dynamic and was able to leave all the competition behind[37]. When the Civic Platform was entering the market, it was the only party with a marketing strategy, it was new, unique and the electors could not compare it to anything else. In case of “Demokraci.pl”, the initial social reaction was to compare it with the bigger, stronger and more stable Civic Platform. As we see from the example of the Democratic Party, it is not enough to recognize the market and create a product to be successful. In reference to “Demokraci.pl” there is another mistake worth mentioning. The party used its marketing strategy towards a very specific target – the voters of another party the Freedom Union. Those people did not treat politics merely as  a mechanism for satisfying demand. This kind of approach found no acceptance among this voter group. As we see even with the “open political market” where electors choose between a various parties and their preferences are often changing (Mazur, 2005: 20), it is very hard to adapt marketing party model and be successful.

One more time I would like to return to the importance of political crisis as a factor that “opens” the political market for marketing parties. That condition was totally fulfilled by the Slovakian Smer. At the time, the country was slowly recovering after the Meciar government and the initial disappointments related to the rule of the Democratic Coalition. Slovakia was returning to transformation procedures that had been stopped for a while. By comparison, the Polish political scene did not witness any shocks[38] that could help the “Demokraci.pl” political project to look fresh and attractive. The political scene in Lithuania might also serve as an example to support the thesis of political breakthroughs playing a key role for the emergence of marketing parties. It was in this country that a political crisis culminating in the impeachment of President R. Paksas by the Lithuanian parliament, became the source of success for the Labor Party, established in 2003 by W. Uspaskich. The party was in fact an investment project undertaken by several Lithuanian businessman[39] who up until that time had no influence on the government decisions, and thus decided to acquire that influence by sponsoring their own political project. Their primary aim was to win the 2004 elections, thus acquiring access to the financial help flowing from the European Union[40]. Therefore, resorting to appropriate political promotion techniques, they managed to turn their lack of political experience into an advantage, arguing that the party representatives were themselves able to create their personal wealth, and now are ready to help the whole society become wealthy. The Lithuanian Labor Party is an example to support the claim, that even the political market is governed by marketing principles in planning for a new product, including the determination of the optimum timing for introducing the new product onto the market (the absorption ability of the market), the degree of acceptance for the projected goods and services by the customers, as well as the profitability of the new products for the entrepreneurs (Altkorn, 2003: 145). It is interesting to pay particular attention to the last element of this distinct triad - the profitability of the product being introduced. In Lithuania, for certain business elite to realize its goals, it proved to be more beneficial and effective to establish a new political entity, and not to explore other venues of influencing the government officials, venues offered by a democratic system. In accordance with marketing theory new products seldom bring profits from the very beginning, (Foxall ,Goldsmith, 1998: 26),  which did not take place in the matter of voting results of Labour Party. The reason may lay in the stage of stabilization of Lithuanian political market, where it is rather easy to introduce new product-party into market[41].

It is not always a rule that a vital crisis, such as an important change or a financial crash causes the appearance of marketing parties. As we see some entities on political market are trying to adapt to the pattern described above. More effective strategy in stabile democracies is „rebranding”. It was used in Great Britain when Tony Blair reformed Labour Party and created New Labour Party.

Political parties are not the only objects existing in political environment. Apart from them, we can recognize pressure groups, social movements and the media. They constitute a competition. It is not a direct danger for parties – they are still having a very special position[42]. Nevertheless, they influence political forces. If we compare the creation process of a party and its political appeal to the creation of a new product on a market, we can see the change in the interest aggregation. It differentiates political parties from the entities mentioned above. Those entities have their contribution in representing social needs. The competition forces the improvement of the political product and the use of promotion and advertising techniques.


Marketing parties – results and myths

Based on the information presented above, I would like to try to evaluate marketing parties. It will be an assessment relating to model and not to real-life entities, in spite of the fact that they are sometimes very close to the described pattern. We can observe a certain ambivalence in the character of marketing parties – they could be very important in a democratic system, helpful  to rebuild the relations between citizens and the state. On the other hand, their techniques can cause a serious danger for the essence of the democratic system, especially the function of political parties in that system.

It is important to consider the price of the transaction that happens on the political market, the transaction that is finalized with the moment of voting. The price for voters is really high, their own political subordination, especially that the product can not be returned and if they want to evaluate “that product”, they have to wait till next elections. The significant difference between marketing appealed to products and marketing used by political parties is the role of price. In first case price decides about attractivness of product, in the second one price is permanent [constant] factor. As a result competition beetween parties is focused on other element of marketing mix (4p) product, promotion and product distribution.

We can find two marketing theories that might be relevant to our problem. They are related to the position held by the consumer – the voter. According to P. Kotler, marketing is “a social and management process that allows individuals and groups to receive whatever they want and need. This goal is maintained by creating suitable products” (Kotler, 1994:7). On the other hand, M. Bongrand presents the essence of marketing as “techniques that help to adjust the product to the market, make it known to the consumer, make it better then the competition and make an optimum profit bearing limited costs.” (Bongrand 1986: 5, in: Mazur 2004: 16) Marketing parties emphasize their openness and the competence to react to social needs. They contrast those values with the decadence of the political class, the experience of communist parties and the groups that pursued grand ideas. They use marketing techniques and treat it as a great advantage. Marketing parties provide society with the most needed values: attention to and concentration on social problems, they know how to treat and listen to people. Everything that could be a disadvantage is turned into an advantage. A great example might be Sylvio Berlusconi’s declaration – “If somebody is concave I will be convex, if somebody is convex I will be concave” (Jędrysik, Wojciechowski, „Gazeta Wyborcza”,  08.12.2003.), or yet a different statement: “I am trying to follow a great example of Ronald Reagan, who was always telling people whatever they wanted to hear” (D’Anna and Moncalvo (1994), Berlusconi in Concert, p. 363. quoted in: Croci, 2001: 361). Disproving potential arguments that might claim Berlusconi to be a representation of arrogant political extremism, we can recall Robert Fico and his opinion about Fyodor Flasikov[43] who was responsible for the Smer election campaign in 2002. According to Fico, Flasikov was “a person that could turn water into cacao or pepsi-cola” (Kollar, Meseznikov, 2000: 120). Those examples present what the leaders of those parties think about the importance of the political parties and those citizens who more likely will decide to drink water as a more noble drink. This type of thinking causes some doubts about the sincerity of intensions voiced by those leaders. It is also questionable whether it is possible for the marketing parties to rebuild the connection between the party and the society[44].

If we put together two things: declarations of the leaders of marketing parties, that they consider the citizen as a very important subject, and the special techniques that are used to attract social attention, we can see the process of manipulation. Naturally we can describe those techniques as a proof that marketing parties want to understand electors-clients or as a political pragmatism that helps them to be more efficient (especially when we are talking about attracting voters). All those techniques help the parties to reach their goals and be successful, the consequence of which disproves the thesis set above that claimed the importance of citizens themselves.

If we emphasize the meaning of a political party as a creator of party system, the discussion about political marketing is even more interesting. Political marketing concentrates in that case on the principal focus of the party (organization) – the consumer (Mazur, 2005:17.). Unfortunately it cannot constitute a perfect reflection on party relations nowadays. It is hard to reconcile two tendencies: the party depends on the state more and more, it separates itself from the society and at the meantime presents itself as a product on the political market. The explanation for that contradiction might be an argument that marketing parties do not constitute a separate, independent trends in political developments. Naturally, we can create a theoretical model but political objects are very specific. Marketing parties understand the changes, show better sensitivity towards electoral perceptions and different meanings of a party in the political system. Political parties do not need loyal members and large structures to survive. What they need is the vote of citizens which will lead them to government structures and power,  and assure them political existence and development. Those are all the values that are important for a party. As a result, parties have not lost their social basis. Moreover, they are not interested in social support any more. They are looking for voters everywhere without paying any particular attention to old loyal members. In post-communist countries, this tendency is related to the symbolic experience, whereby the citizen gave up his own independence to the state – but he has the right to control it and decide not to participate in next elections (Staniszkis, 2001:93). Based on this information, we must admit that a model that we had been trying to form was actually an adaptation of the tendency to political and social relations.


Returning to our evaluation of marketing parties as a distinct pattern, we have to answer the question of how those entities fulfill the functions assigned to political parties in the political system. Referring to that issue, we might even ask another question that is not really related to our subject. Do modern democracies really need political parties? Are they still fundamental entities that can facilitate important public issues? Can they be replaced by other non-governmental organizations or different groups that can potentially represent the voice of the society?

Political functions can be ranked according their relevance for the society, party members, the institution of power and the political system as a whole[45]. We are trying to focus on the relations between the party and the society, and that is why it is important to mention the following: the process of nominating candidates in the election campaign, electoral mobilization, emphasizing important issues and alternatives, representing social groups and interest aggregation. According to P.G. Lewis, the functions of political parties     in post-communist countries involve: identification of future goals, articulation and aggregation of interests, society mobilization and socialization, the recruitment process and creation of government (Lewis 2000: 156 in: Grabowska: 207).

Obtaining stability of marketing conception for political parties would cause changes in relations between the citizens and the party. At the beginning parties functioning concentrated more on providing service, they educated society, introduced new ideas in the areas where they held specific political competence. The essence of marketing party rejects completely those functions. When a marketing party becomes a flexible product that means it must adopt to different social needs every time such necessity presents itself. That does not allow marketing party to realize the tasks that have been defined in the following way by the German Constitution “political parties cooperate in the political shaping of the national will” (art.21 & 1)[46]. As already mentioned, marketing groups answer or create the expectations voiced by their target group, and they resign from the holistic vision of social development. In the case, accepting the development model of marketing parties would mean the end of party politics understood as the ability to mobilize and integrate people in a democratic process (Dalton,  2002: 19).

Accepting the claim that the party is a product that meets specific demands, could also carry different consequences as the socializing function is strongly related to the issue of who (personally) is responsible for carrying it out, or else, to the issue of the candidate selection. If we free the politicians of their responsibility and do not let them create demanded attitudes, it might lead to the redefinition of a political elite. It is possible for the politicians to resign from the mentor function? It has been an inseparable function for a long time. Would they agree to a passive function, whereby they would be merely representing the features that are expected by electors? In that case, the candidate selection would involve only competition based on the physical features of a given candidate (the look, height, etc.). Presuming that marketing parties are not trying to manipulate and they are really the answer to new expectations and rules of social communication, the consequences of their functioning can be dangerous to the political class – people who consider national and social issues very seriously. That assumption could cause a decrease in political standards and thus a crisis of the socializational function of the party, that is one of  fundamental characteristics of a functioning democracy (Aberbach, Putnam, Rockman 1981, quoted in: Dalton, 2003: 6.). This opinion  is one of the explanations for the appearance of marketing parties and their success in post-communist countries. Those groups are trying to use this very effect and influence social expatiations. They seem to resign from the guiding function and present themselves as will executors.

With reference to marketing parties, we have to mention the importance of consequence of their  activity for political plans and political decisions. The marketing view on political program is based on “treating electors as groupings of different demographical and social segments with different needs and expectations”( Mazur, 2005: 65). That forces the party to examine social expectations. The public opinion poll is usually used as the main source of political market information (Mazur, 2005: 77). The source determines the quality of the data and its reliability. G. Satori has answered the question about social knowledge in relevance to public issues stating that “ignorance, lack of interest, distorted picture and finally total ignorance represented by average citizen do not cease to amaze an observer (...) in all democracies the electoral polls and surveys continue to paint a rather sad picture of information base (…) of a large majority of citizens” (Sartori, 1998: 136). In the case, if parties are creating their program as a response to that kind of electors, it might be a  satisfying product. Yet, its quality is not a good example of a well-balanced and long-term project – let it be enough to mention for instance the popular ideas of stricter criminal law as a response to deteriorating perception of public safety in the eyes of the citizens. The opinion poll is not only a research tool but also a method of influencing social feelings, needs and modifying people’s attitudesOne of the communication techniques is to form, select and present questions properly. Continuing the issue relating to the decision-making process at the national level based on citizens’ suggestions that are actually a collection of postulates encapsulated by marketing specialists, we face two political visions for a country being governed with such methods. The first one is the prediction of the governmental crisis. This crisis would be caused by the same strategy that helped the government win in the first place. The second way is the return to elite pluralism. That theory claims that an average citizen is not qualified enough to participate in public affairs. Marketing techniques are thus needed to create an illusion of citizen participation in public life, of a democratic system, and to separate rational administration from the sentimental and confused public opinion (Lippmann, 1927 quoted in: Bucy , Gregson, 2001: 361).


The image of marketing parties that we have so far construed is that of a specific manipulation that helps to fulfill the aspirations of party leaders. When we compare it to the types described earlier (Table 1), it might be paradoxically treated as a proof that creation of marketing party model is unnecessary. However, we can admit that there is a specific kind of a strategy that allows the party to function on the political stage. We have to remember that those parties become less attractive for the voters whenever there is more than one such entity on the political stage. It shows that marketing parties need to refer to the  tactics of “escaping ahead”, “coming in front of the row”, yet they have little chance to survive unless they change the essence of their activities. One more time we refer to the Slovakian Smer party – when this political product reached its maturity stage (referring to the marketing theory of product life cycle (Foxal, Goldsmith 1998: 23-28.) it decided to modernize – Smer joined SDL. Fico left his party, separating himself from that group to create his new political party.  Its importance, that kind of behavior can be defined as creating a new product by exploiting the old brand (Smer). We can conclude that marketing parties are adapting and getting close to models already described.

Those considerations were related to certain theoretical assumptions but it is worth to present the case in which classical groups are faced with a new social perception of a given political stage. The German elections to Bundestag (September 18, 2005) might serve as a valuable example. During the elections almost one million voters changed their opinions and decided to vote for the New Left instead of SPD, over one million left CDU-CSU for FDP and 640 000 SPD electors voted for Christian-Democrats. One week before the election, around 4 million people changed their preferences, and 29% of German made up their minds about their political preferences (Zagrodzka,”Gazeta Wyborcza”, 24-25.09.2005). That was not the only surprise during the elections in Germany. Another surprise was that the mechanism of a personalized voting that we described before. As a result of a televised debate between A. Merkel and G. Schroeder, the support for SPD increased by 2%[47] – an example of the mechanism of personalized  politics perception. The situation demonstrates that the social impulse can force traditional groups to redefine their identity in terms of a given product. The Deceptiveness of  behavioral pattern is related to a few threats. Those groups – just like it happened in Germany, can witness their losses outweigh the gains – as they are threatened with losing their loyal electors. The most common mistake nowadays is that political parties forget about their loyal electors and focus on undecided and passive voters. What seems to be the most important is to continue devoting proper attention to loyal electors. The party should not use marketing techniques to increase the size of the target group because it does not need people with fluctuating preferences or disappointed electors. Especially due to the fact that people disappointed with their party can step aside from political activity forever.



Due to the fact that marketing parties appeared on the political stage we might treat this phenomenon as a criterion of changes in public environment in the last few years. Our conclusions related to political market helped to indicate a lot of challenges for a modern democracy – both those well-advanced, as well as the ones that are only slowly becoming apparent.

According to arguments presented in this article, marketing parties can be sometimes seen as a threat to the process of political recruitment, civic socialization, and long-term strategy for a country. In the case we can ask if it is practical for a democratic system to host those kind of political groups. Their essence is to use and manipulate social preferences. The Party’s survival relies on those principles. J. Staniszkis suggests that it is not an important issue for post-communist countries. Their political elites have little influence with no competences and ethical rules. In that case limited influence of democratic institutions and elected politicians could be an advantage. The coordination of the political process – the “management” will be placed with external entities while the rest will remain a mere facade[48].

We have to remember equally the critical opinions directed at marketing parties. They are accused of simplifying political relations and depriving the axiological aspect of the political environment. On the contrary, those parties can be used as a framework for the political standards improvement. Whereas if some values become important issues for citizens we can be sure they will return immediately as a part of the party program. And when on of the democracy myths – that of a rational voter – comes true, marketing parties will be no longer a threat to the efficiency of the democratic system. Yet the question of whether the marketing parties will continue to be an active entity under such conditions remains open.


Considering the future of marketing parties we have to remember that their attractiveness is strongly related to the novelty effect on the political stage. Presuming that all the parties follow the marketing path, the party will lose one of its most important attributes. According to the assumption that one of party functions is to transfer social preferences to the political decision-making process, we have ask one question. Is it possible to better fulfill consumer/elector expectations? Is it possible to raise the level of fulfilling their “wishes” and at a same time reach political goals? Will we be able to find responsible entities on the political stage to create civic attitudes? If we do not find them, what kind of electors will marketing parties have to cooperate with? Would it still be a democracy, or maybe (in accordance with the arguments of J. Staniszkis) a manipulation – a show for the people with the new oligarchy government holding the rule? Marketing parties might fall in the trap of a tendency to simplify, adjusting the picture of realities to the level of the audience, a level that is rarely a demanding one, thus resigning from the socializational function. It may be thereby predicted that the quality of political discourse will be systematically declining.

One more time it is worth to mention the influence of marketing parties on classical political groups. Marketing parties (even if their roots fall in line with the ones described above on specific examples) give an impulse for more prompt changes. One of the consequences is that classical groups are looking for new techniques and channels to improve their communication with the society.  As a result of that, cyber parties might appear on the political stage. This potential phenomenon will build the direct individual relations with electors through IT network systems. This type of relations has already been termed as CMC (computer-mediated communication) (Tambini,1999: 305-329). It is a chance to rebuild active society participation in political life. It facilitates parties to adjust to new environment without treating politics as a market. CMC enables to avoid specific traps that are set within the issues of party commercialization and state control. Nevertheless this project is a rather distant one, especially for this part of Europe.

It is very important to remember that the marketing party model can be an easy way for the party founders to reach their own goals. The great advantage of those parties is their ability to enter the market very fast, without long discussions held with the various social groups and their fraction. Moreover, those groups are controllable, either through internal management or a prompt reaction to the outside changes. That is the key advantage that defines their competitiveness against the classical groups. It is not enough for modern political activity to be efficient any more but it is important to act fast enough.

To conclude this article, we should try to find an answer to the question of whether the new evolutional pattern of political parties distinguishes the present-day political stage. At this level of observation, with current information about the changes in the European party system it would be too early to make any definite claims. The first reason is that the observations on those parties have been carried out in a short period of time. Second reason – even more important than time-span – is the dynamic evolution of part of the marketing groups towards the types of a parties, which have already been distinguished by political scientists and their adaptation to predominant patterns of political activities in a particular environment setting.



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[1] The principal models of political parties that have been described in political studies so far (see Table 1), shall constitute a frame of reference for the arguments that will follow, and thus, aiming to simplify the decription, shall be referred to as “classical”, “traditional”.

[2] Interesting publications about political marketing in Polish are: R. Wiszniowski (2000), Marketing wyborczy: studium kampanii wyborczych w systemach prezydenckich i semiprezydenckich. Finlandia, Francja, Polska, Stany Zjednoczone, Wrocław, J. Muszyński (2001), Marketing polityczny, Warszawa, W. Cwalina, A. Falkowski (2005), Marketing polityczny : perspektywa psychologiczna, Gdańsk

[3] The moment when the television became the dominating medium influencing political preferences.

[4] The political parties which might be referred to as classical within th eEuropean political space, are mainly those which represent national or religious minorities, as the Romanian Democratic Hungarian Union (Uniunea Democratica Maghiara din România - UDMR), or the Moldavian Party (Partidul Moldovenilor - PM), http//www.Alegir 2000/Kappa.ro

[5] The party systems in the countries of the former Yugoslavia might serve as a good example.

[6] Political communication in democratic country is embedded in the political arena and contains two way relations between elements of political system. Organizational actors read their political enviroments and society influence on their decisions, O.K. Ngwenyama, A.S. Lee (1997), Communication Richness in Electronic Mail: Critical Social Theory and the Contextuality of Meaning, “MIS Quarterly”, Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 145.

[7] Widely about „comprehensive political marketing” in: P. Niffenegger (1989), Strategies for success from the political marketers, „Journal of Consumer Marketing”, vol. 6 no 1, pp 46-61, D. Wring (1996), Political marketing and party development in Britain: a „secret history”, „European Journal of Marketing”, Vol.30, No 10-11, pp. 100-11, B. Newman (1996), The Marketing of the President: Political Marketing as Campaign Strategy, Sage, Thousand Oaks, A. Sackman (1996), The learning curve towards New Labour: Nail Kinnock’s corporate party 1983-1992, „European Journal of Marketing”, Vol 30, No 10-11, pp 147-58, D. Wrang, Political marketing and organisational development: the case of the Labour Party in Britain, „Resarch Paper in Management Studies”, No 12, A. O’Cass (1996), Political marketing and the marketing concept”, „European Journal of Marketing”, Vol 30, No 10-11, pp. 45-61.

[8] M.N. Pedersen describes the path that a party needs to follow in realizing its goal – take part in the forming of government – as a four-stage process: first stage is concerns the passing of the declarative barrier (a group of leaders establishes a party and declares the will to take stand in the elections – the establishment of a party in a sociological perspective), the second stage relates to the authorization threshold (the need to register the party – the establishment of the party in a legal perspective), the third stage concerns the passing of a representative barrier (acquiring the public support that would allow for the party representatives to enter the parliament), and the fourth stage relates to the participation in the forming of a ruling coalition, see. M.N. Pedersen, Towards a New Typology of Party Lifespans and Minor Parties, SPS, vol.5 (1), /in:/ R. Herbut (1996), Systemy partyjne w Europie Zachodniej – ciągłość i zmiana. Studium porównawcze, Wrocław, p.167.

[9] That is why all so called contemporary parties may not be treated as marketing ones. Some of created initiatives, which can be named virtual, reseign from creative strategies – programme becomes synthesis on e-mails that represent views. At the extreme, such possibilities lead to the formation of ‘virtual’ parties, such as the German party ‘Die Digitalen’, which ran in the 1999 local government election in Berlin. This party operated on an Internet basis only, with an ‘open policy’ programme whereby policy formulation was subject to any interested person online. So-called party members were solely in charge of organizing and coordinating the process of policy development. A. Rommle (2003), p.10.

[10] P. Mair makes the claim that differentiating the models of political parties (staff parties, mass parties, catch-all parties, cartel parties) does not imply the creation of a new model, but rather the end of the previous forms – they can exist in parallel (See. P. Mair (1997), p.109.). Thus the new trend within the party space signifies the existence of several types of political parties. This state of affairs may in fact constitute a test of effectiveness, that is the fundament for party self-determination, perception and definition of public space (K.W.).

[11] The parties with the still most distinct ideological, as well as class profile are the social-democrat parties. The analysis proposed by Kircheimer relates to the 1960’s, whereas the most powerful left-of-center parties within the European political space – the British Labour Party and the German SPD, chose to seek broad electoral support much later. In Great Britain, such a shift resulted from the government struggles to limit the influence of labor unions, undertaken by M. Thatcher, while in Germany this shift came with the G. Shroeder taking the position of a party leader and the office of the chancellor. Yet not all parties pursued this venue – only to mention the communist parties in Italy – Rifondazione Comunista (RC), or the Communist Party of Slovakia (Komunistická Strana Slovenska (KSS).

[12] Market segmentation is homogenic division and aggregation of prospective buyers or recipients (voters) into groups (segments) that have common needs to maximize reaction on the product. And targeting is a process of selection of the customers you wish to service, J. Altkorn (2003), Podstawy marketingu, Kraków, p. 69 - 73.


[13] J.Lees – Marhsment analized mass parties as a kind of market – oriented patres, takind into consideration the fat that they used informal social opinion researches for puspose of optimalization of their result. However, such point of view does not include important factor – organizational dimension of described  parties. Their origines, initiaatives of trade unions (case of social and socialdemocratic parties) or christian groupings and organizations  (Christian Parties) excluded basic element for marketing organization, which is creation of product’s project, see. J. Lees- Marshment (2001a), p. 701.

[14] The other phenomenon observe by G. Fedel is the “pathologism”, or the perception of every political language as a code with a low, or even non-existent, though fundamental, communicative function, see: Giorgio Fedel, Saggi sul linguaggio e l’oratoria politica (Milan: Giuffrè, 1999), pp. 3–50. quoted in: Osvaldo Croci(2001), p.349.

[15] Italian football is seen as an intellectual activity, which thus constitutes a complement to the physical exercise, and is described and interpreted in a deeper sense (…) The sports commentator thereby acquires the status of a preacher on the matter of football, see: Tim Parks, Italian Neighbours or a Lapsed Anglo-Saxon in Verona (New York: Fawcett Columbine Books, 1992), pp. 124–5. Italian translation: Italiani (Milan: Bompiani,1995), quoted in: Osvaldo Croci, (2001), p. 349.

[16] This particular way of speaking about politics has been accepted by political scientists, and G. Sartori called Forza Italia “a second- or third-league party”, compare La Repubblica, 12 May 1994., Osvaldo Croci (2001), p. 360.

[17] A. Duharvel in Libération, quoted in: L’Espresso, 25 March 1994; Corriere della Sera, 1 April 1994; L’Europeo, 6 April 1994; L’Indipendente, 7 July 1994. Osvaldo Croci (2001)p. 361.

[18] Corriere della Sera, 25 April 1995; La Repubblica, 13 June 1995, Osvaldo Croci (2001), p. 361.

[19] It is claimed that the candidates reach the voters through their appearance and behavior (55%), through their expression (38%), and only very slightly with the contents of what they have to say (7%). see: B. Bruce (1992), Images of Power: How the Image Makers Shape Our Leaders, London, pp. 40-41, quoted in: Pietraś Z. J. (1995), Decydowanie polityczne, Warszawa-Kraków, p.427.

[20] As the basis for defining its identity a party may refer to the typology proposed by Kalus von Beyme, who distinguished parties as: liberal and radical, conservative, socialist and social-democrat, Christian-democrat, communist, agrarian, regional and ethnic, radical right-wing and eco-parties. See: Ware A., Political Parties and Party Systems, Oxford University Press 1996, p.22.

[21]See: Slonenske volby 2002 – prekroceni Rubikonu?/in:/ Cislo 4, rocnik IV, podzim 2002, p.1.

[22] „Narodna obroda”, 30.11.1999, quoted in: Kristofik M., Ideove a programove vymedzenie strany SMER, p. 3.

[23] The ineffectiveness of the attempt staged by Smer to escape ideological connotations as part of marketing-oriented calculations, whereby the party initially presented itself as “pragmatic and aideological” („Tezy Politickieho programu „Preco sme tu”, http://www.strana-smer.sk/program/programovetezy) lead to – also as part of a tactical move – the party finding its place in the left-of-center camp, aiming to establish its political postulates in the “third way” framework. Thus Smer turned away from “pragmatic and rational” politics, trying to gain support based on the positive social connotations held at the time in relations to the “third way” concept, which, according to T. Blair “was in principal an idea. Without an in-depth identification with the goals and values, the governments lack guidance and effectiveness, regardless of whether they have a majority.” quoted in: T. Kowalik,  /in:/ Spory wokół Nowej Trzeciej Drogi, , Warszawa 2001, p.125.

[24] Let us recall the „new issues” (gender, ecology, quality of life) that have cut across the left-right political divides, and yet were adopted by the left-of-center parties, spurring appropriate reaction from the conservative circles, that came to treat those issues as dividing lines within the discourse characterizing the adversary. N. Bobbio claims that the political description in terms of “left-right” has still significant bearing on the political thinking, as politics in nature has a conflicting character. Left and right are the two sides of a given body. Although what constitutes “the left” and, on the other hand, that what constitutes “the right”, may change, no single concept can be constituting for both the left and the right. see: N. Bobbio, Left and Right, Cambridge 1996, quoted in: A. Giddens (1999), Trzecia droga. Odnowa socjaldemokracji., Warszawa, p.39.

[25] Budge and Robertson point out that the dominating line that defines party rivalry is the “right – left” divide. Only an ethnic conflict or a direct security threat to the state make constitute a factor that may eliminate this fundamental dividing line. compare: Bugde, Robertson, quoted in: P. Mair, (1997), p. 24.

[26] The polls conducted during the recent parliamentary elections in Germany showed that 70% of voters base their political awareness on the information presented on television, D. Zagrodzka, Niemcy w strachu i rozchwianiu, /in:/”Gazeta Wyborcza”, 24-25.09.2005, p.19.

[27] Compare: Conway, M.M. (2000) Political Participation in the United States, Washington, DC: CQ Press., quoted in: E. P. Bucy and K. S. Gregson (2001), Media participation.A legitimizing mechanism of mass democracy, /in:/ “New media & society”, Vol3(3), p.359.

[28] In the former communist countries a weak post-communist state remains powerful enough to assure that the society is kept at an even weaker position, co-opting local elites and sustaining ultra-stability, J. Staniszkis (2001), Postkomunizm. Próba opisu, Gdańsk, p. 93.

[29] Taking the Polish experience as an example, we might point to the ideas originated in the circles closely tied to the radical right-of-center “Radio Maryja” that aspired to fill the moral vacuum that was left in the society.

[30] Today such markets are to be found in those countries, where ethnic or religious issues play an important part in defining political identity – such was the case up until now in Ireland, or in the countries where as certain danger has been expressed to sustain party loyalty, for example in Italy of the late 1990’s.

[31] Analyzing the role of political crisis on the existence of marketing parties, it is necessary to make a reference to the potential opinions that treat marketing and populist parties as equals. The latter exploit the “populist situation” by appealing to broad masses, by direct reference to those masses and by a strategy of mass manipulation. The intensity of “populist situation” increases with the intensified sense of depravation – the lack of fulfilled expectations. Such is the case with in-depth economic crisis situations, which reflect most on the lowest social classes – the masses (compare: J. Dzwończyk (2000), Populistyczne tendencje w społeczeństwie postsocjalistycznym, Toruń, p. 23). In case of marketing parties, the crisis situation opens up the political market, thus facilitating the entry of political entities onto that market. Marketing parties are principally an embodiment of a different view on the public space, that parts with the manipulation-oriented, and emotion-based mobilization of the masses (compare: R. Tokraczyk (1998), Współczesne doktryny polityczne, Zakamycze, p.541).

[32] Berlusconi is the wealthiest person in Italy with an annual income of $7.7 mln, savings and assets estimated at $11bln, see: M. Jędrysik, M. Wojciechowski, Dwugłowiec. Wklęsły i wypukły, „Gazeta Wyborcza” no 285, 08/12/2003, p. 4.

[33] Compare: Dalton, Wattenberg, The not so simple act of voting, quoted in: Cwalina W. (2000), p.60.

[34] Four distinct stages have been defined, the product's intorduction onto the market, the growth phase, the maturity phase, and the decline phase, See: G. R. Foxal, R. E. Goldsmith (1998), Psychologia konsumenta dla menedżera marketingu, Warszawa, s. 28

[35] Slovakia has witnessed efforts aiming to increase the civic awareness and political activeness of the young people, the consequences of which were visible in the 1998 elections, when the voter turnout among first- and second-time voters reached 80%. In comparison, during the 1994 elections, the voter turnout for that group ranged at less than 50%, Guarfasova O., Velsic M., Prvovolici a druhovolici vo volebnej  kampani 2002-part 1, www.IVO.sk, p.1.

[36] Head - Władysław Frasyniuk, Deputy - Jerzy Hausner, Head of the Political Committe - Tadeusz Mazowiecki,  Secretary General – former deputy Mirosław Czech (secretary of the Freedom Union until Fall 2001), Treasurer -  Zbigniew Lewiński (entrepreneur), Members of the Board: Joanna Brzozowska, Bartłomiej Krasicki (both young, former members of the Democratic Left Alliance), Bogdan Lis (one of the leaders of the 1980 strike), Paweł Lisiewicz (chief of the youth organization linked to the Freedom Union), Włodzimierz Puzyna (chief of regional structures of the Freedom Union, former deputy), Jan Lityński (deputy chief of the Freedom Union, former deputy), Rafał Zaczyk (young manager, without former party affiliation, with connections to J. Hausner). Minister Dariusz Rosati voiced his support for the party, and as it was making its appearence on the political market, the support from the Prime Minister Marek Belka gained much publicity, facing many critical opinions, see: Milewicz E., Sandecki M., Ponad_podziałami.pl /in:/ „Gazeta Wyborcza”  no 106, 09/05/2005, p. 4.

[37] The Civic Platform constituted a natural frame of reference for Demokraci.pl (also through similarities in target voter identification), which was visible in the party program that made specific references to the propositions put forth by the Civic Platform, compare: http://demokraci.pl/index.php?do=standard&navi=0001,0003, accessed on 28.09.2005.

[38] The situation in Poland, despite of the publications on the subsequent corruption scandals and illegal contacts between the business and politics, was incomparable to the changes that directed Slovakia in 1998 towards the end of “democrature” and the return to the democratic path.

[39] The main sponsors of the Labor Party have made it as party candidates, to the top of the party lists - 15 of them were millionaires, See: J. J. Komar, W niedzielę druga tura wyborów na Litwie Uspaskich goni głosy,  „Gazeta Wyborcza” no 250, of  23/10/2004-24/10/2004, p. 8.

[40] Statement made by Rimvydas Valatka, a journalist for the "Lietuvos Rytas" daily newspaper in an interview for Lithuanian Television, commenting the election results. Kto będzie rządził na Litwie? Monday, 25 October 2004, PAP 14:05

[41] Regarding election results in Lithuania Republic from 1990 to 2004 only three parties were able to win seats in Parlament during this period, other actors were changing,  http://www.parties-and-elections.de/lithuania.html

[42] The distinctive role of political parties can be seen when considering the neo-corporativist theories, as without the party factor the connections between business and politics would be non-existent, Lehmbruch G.(1977), Liberal Corporatism and Party Government, “Comparative Political Studies”, 10/1: 91-126, , quoted in: P. Mair (1997), p.10.

[43] Fiodor Flasikov is a former owner of a marketing firm “Donar”, which was responsible for preparing the election campaign for HZDS prior to the 1998 elections – it is equally interesting to observe the path pursued by pragmatic, and perhaps even cynical, professionals dealing with the sale of political products.

[44] “The political discourse in the media (television) should be build as a “press news” because that is precisely what an average person is able to understand”, see: Renato Mannheimer, Il marketing del Cavaliere, “Corriere della Sera”, 6 August 1998. Osvaldo Croci (2001), p. 362.

[45] Quoting M. Grabowska, R.Gunther and L.Diamond, seven principal functions of a party might be listed: nominating candidates in the elections, mobilizing the electorate, articulating important issues and alternatives, representing social groups, aggregating interests, forming and giving support to the government, as well as integrating citizens with politics, R. Ggunther, L. Diamond, Types and Functions of Parties, /in:/ L. Diamond, R. Gunther (2001) (eds.)Political Parties and Democracy, Baltimore-London, pp.7-9, quoted in: M. Grabowska (2004), p. 207.

[46] German Constitution of 23 May 1949, with subsequent changes, http://www.lib.byu.edu/-rdh/eurodocs/germ/ggeng.html, accessed on 29.09.2005.

[47] The debate was watched by 20 mln viewers, and with A. Merkel claimed to be better prepared and more competent in the opinion of political experts, in the eyes of the viewers it was Schroeder who came out victorious, as he personified strength and experience, ibidem.

[48] In following arguments professor Staniszkis sets a prognosis that the most probable scenario is that of an „irrelevant democracy” limited to a legitimizing ritual, reproducing the political class (yet not an elite – the proper management level). The proposals of J. Staniszkis point out that, at least in principle, under the present-day realities, it is rather irrelevant whether the marketing parties, or some different model becomes predominant, because the real power will remain with outside of the formal institutions of the post-communist state., J. Staniszkis (2001), p. 106.

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