great ideas, great leaders and active participation of its members
have been the driving and energizing forces of successful member-based
political and social organizations.
Participation meant face-to-face communications during various
organized events: local party meetings, regional assemblies, national
congresses, street events, thematic committees and informal social
activities. In the best cases, great ideas and great leaders have
been the natural outcome of these activities.
Though plagued by important efficiency and democratic flaws, this
system has well served many multi-party liberal democracies.
During the last decades, however, two parallel phenomena have
created a huge decrease of participation and efficiency of the
decision-making processes at all organizational levels:
of the Public Sphere.
Context, objectives, and membership base of political organizations
have increasingly become transnational and multi-language;
which is evident in the European unification process and the
rise of global political movements.
Increase in travel times, travel costs and translation costs.
The costs required to maintain adequate participation levels
to such internal processes have enormously increased, relatively
to available resources.
increase in the power of private and state-controlled TV media
systems to shape internal information, communication,
agenda and priorities within those same political organizations;
coupled with a comparatively decreased relevance of face-to-face
meetings and political events.
These phenomena have caused an important
decrease in the quality, intensity, visibility, and ultimate effectiveness,
of such democratic organizational processes. Such a detachment
from the political life may be evinced, for example, by the low
turn-out of recent European elections and the difficulty of political
parties and unions to keep pace with the internationalization
of political problems, solutions and institutions.