Do political parties help or hinder representative democracy?

Political parties play a major role in democratic processes around the world. Citizens generally agree, but they also display growing critical attitudes and behaviour towards them. In the UK, as well as elsewhere, party identification is dropping and parties hold ever fewer members. 

'Political parties are the core institution of democratic accountability because parties, not the individuals who support or comprise them, can offer competing visions of the public good,

Write  Ian Shapiro and his Yale colleague, Frances Rosenbluth, in a 2018 opinion piece. Voters, they argue, have neither the time nor the background to research costs and benefits of policies and weigh their personal interests against what's best for the majority in the long run. 

"In the United States, 140 of the 535 people serving in Congress have a net worth over $2m (£1.4m), 78% are male, 83% are white, and more than 50% were previously lawyers or businesspeople,"  

Alexander Guerrero in a 2019 opinion piece, in which he advocated choosing representatives by lottery. 

Case Study Liz Truss The declining numbers of members within the UK’s main political parties meant that Truss was chosen by a group of 98,000 individuals mostly white and elderly and with more extreme views than the average Conservative voter.

Scandals  Do parties select the 'best people?'

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, called for cross-party action to improve access. “When I first went into parliament it was like going into Hogwarts,” she said. “It can be intimidating to think of all the people who have stood at the dispatch box before me, as well as mixing with people from huge wealth, privilege and with expensive education.