Governance, Democracy and Political Parties

Co-hosted by:

Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University
The Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation 

1-3 December 2012


Political parties play a crucial role in the governance of liberal democracies. Political parties, also, play a central role in systems that do not meet the standard criteria of liberal democracy. This conference addresses the changing characteristics and role of political parties in governance and democracy, with a particular focus on India, Australia and other countries in Asia.

Key Objectives:

  • To engage social scientists from Australia and India in collaborative research for the purpose of substantive outcomes and mutual learning about the changing role of political parties in India, Australia and elsewhere;

  • To analyse, from a comparative perspective, contemporary transformations in the nature and role of political parties in India and beyond;
  • To examine different interpretations and implications of such transformations for systems of governance;
  • To use the theme of party transformation as a window to an enhanced comprehension of broader political and policy processes; and 
  • To locate changes in the role of political parties India, Australia and other countries in the context of global patterns, if any.

Download the conference program.


Conference sessions will be organised around the following themes

Political competition and party systems 
Political competition and party systems tend to be relatively stable. But there are times when new parties emerge or older parties acquire new salience. For example, new ideologies such as environmentalism and feminism have produced Green parties, and in Sweden an all-women party. Similarly, issues like intellectual property and knowledge sharing form the ideological core of the new 'pirate' parties in Sweden, Austria and Germany. Europe has also seen the emergence of far-right anti-immigration parties. These new parties can be explained as the result of de-alignment of parties from their traditional class base, the mobilization of new social forces, activation of dormant social cleavages, the emergence of new cleavage structures articulated around new issues, or greater scope for charismatic leadership. While the Indian political landscape has recently been populated, often in an ad hoc way, by many parties, stable party systems such as in the UK or Australia have been undergoing considerable change with the rise of third and minor parties. This theme may also include papers addressing the phenomenon of regional groupings of political parties, such as coalitional groups contesting for the parliament of the European Union. In certain cases parties have moved out of their national ambit acquiring a pan-national character.

Ideologies, programs and policy 
When parties are labelled conservative, liberal, labour, socialist, social democratic, communist, green, feminist, democratic or republican, the assumption is that ideological principles inform their activities and policies. However, it is often argued that the ideological basis of parties is in decline. Policy convergence in electoral competition, notably on economic policy, is often a striking pattern. We may consider whether this process is a reflection of the maturation of democracies; or the disintegration of old class divisions, giving rise to different economic structures and new classes; or the declining salience of ideological appeals due to a sociological process of individualization. We may also ask whether ideological differences really mattered even in earlier times. How much policy or programmatic difference is required for citizens to have real choice in elections? If a decline of ideological and programmatic differences can be established, is this a healthy trend or something to be deplored?

Leadership and electoral support 
Parties have become increasingly media-oriented and leader-centric. Although parties in India remain strong in terms of membership and partisanship, they no longer rely on member membership contributions and fees, and members have little say in choosing the leader. Leadership succession is often confined to the family of the supreme leader. How do parties and leaders mobilize electoral support in such circumstances? How do parties and leaders activate social cleavages, how do they make use of new social cleavages? What is the role of political clientelism, understood in different ways and practiced at different levels? What makes a party win or lose an election, what role do leaders play, how do parties and leaders generate legitimacy for the political system and government or undermine the legitimacy of a government? Is it possible for parties that are not internally strong and democratic to promote democracy? The issues of political representation and electoral reforms assume importance in this context.

 The political economy and organization of political parties
The role of money in politics is a perennial problem. Party financing, fund-raising, and electoral expenditures raise important questions for students of political parties. Lobbying and funding by business organisations and other interest groups may have become increasingly significant with the decline of many mass-based parties, due to falling memberships and weakened organizational strength due to the growth of new middle classes, information and communication technologies, and lower trust in information provided by political parties. At times financial support blurs with corruption, notwithstanding legislative requirements for limits on and disclosure of funding. India presents particular problems in this respect. Political parties, old and new, are also taking recourse to virtual campaigns through the use of new technologies. They are attempting to become technologically savvy through the use of social networking sites and virtual networks to expand their social base. This can to some extent offset the erosion of support among younger cohorts and the new middle classes.

 Varieties of capitalism, regional integration, and the rise of China 
The politics of the 'great transformation' occurring in much of Asia is managed by national political parties such as the Communist Party of China and the People's Action Party of Singapore. A session at the conference will explore the role of political parties in three generations of Asian capitalism. First, Japan, which introduced an authoritarian developmental state model to the region. Second, a generation consisting of Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Third, Malaysia and Thailand, and India and China-which share some of the authoritarian lineage of earlier generations, but also exhibit greater heterodoxy. China's top-down state capitalism, for instance, stands in contrast with India's bottom-up, 'democratic' path to development, in which political parties play very different roles. We are also interested in papers exploring party political perspectives on regional integration in Asia, and different party responses to and interpretations of the rise of China.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Yogendra Yadav

Yogendra Yadav is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi since 2004. He is the Founder Director (1997-2003) of Lokniti, a research programme on comparative democracy of the CSDS. He has co-authored State of Democracy in South Asia (OUP, 2008). He has co-authored (with Alfred Stepan and Juan Linz) Crafting State Nations, published in 2010 from John Hopkins University Press. He has been involved in designing and coordinating the National Election Studies, the most comprehensive series of academic surveys of the Indian electorate, from 1996 to 2009. He has published many academic and research papers in various books and journals. He is the Editor of Samayik Varta, a monthly journal published in Hindi. He is on the International Advisory Board of the European Journal of Political Research. In 2008 Professor Yadav was awarded the Malcom Adishesiah Award for contribution to development studies. In 2009 the International Political Science Association honoured Professor Yogendra Yadav with the first Global South Solidarity Award 'in recognition of outstanding work on the politics of the developing world'. Professor Yadav was a visiting Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg Zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study at Berlin) for a year 2009-10. Professor Yadav's areas of interests include democratic theory, election studies, political theory, modern Indian political thought and Indian socialism.

Professor James Manor

James Manor is the Emeka Anyaoku Professor of Commonwealth Studies Emeritus in the School of Advanced Study, University of London.  He has previously taught at Yale, Harvard and Leicester Universities, and at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.  He was the Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London (1993-1997), and the V.K.R.V. Rao Professor at the Institute of Social and Economic Change, Bangalore (2006-2008).  He specialises in the study of politics and state-society relations in India.  His books include Nehru to the Nineties: The Changing Office of Prime Minister in India (as editor); Democracy and Decentralisation in South Asia and West Africa: Participation, Accountability and Performance (with Richard Crook); Broadening and Deepening Democracy: Political Innovation in Karnataka (with E. Raghavan); Against the Odds: Politicians, Institutions and the Struggle against Poverty (with M.A. Melo and Njuguna Ng'ethe); and The Best and Worst of the Indian State: The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (with Rob Jenkins, forthcoming).


Professor K.C. Suri, University of Hyderabad (co-convenor)

Professor Suri teaches at the Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad. His recent publications include Political Parties in South Asia: The Challenge of Change, (International IDEA, 2007); and Electoral Politics in Indian States (co-editor), (Oxford University Press, 2009). He has published many book chapters and papers in national and international journals on different themes such as economic reform policies, political parties, elections and voting, agrarian issues, and policy and politics of caste reservations. As a member of the Lokniti team at the CSDS, Delhi, he has been associated with several social surveys and empirical studies such as the National Election Studies, Political Parties in South Asia and State of Democracy in South Asia. As the recipient of Endeavour Executive Award, Government of Australia, he was a visiting scholar at School of International and Political Studies, Deakin University, during July-October 2010. He was the Editor (2001-2002) of theIndian Journal of Political Science, the quarterly journal of the Indian Political Science Association. His areas of research interest are Indian democracy and political process, politics of public policies, political parties, elections and voting, and state politics in India.

Associate Professor Hans Lofgren, Deakin University (co-convenor)

Hans Lofgren teaches Politics and Policy Studies and is a frequent visitor to India. His research interests include Indian politics and the political economy of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology in Australia, India and globally. Publications include H. Lofgren and P. Sarangi (eds) The Politics and Culture of Globalisation: India and Australia (Social Science Press, 2009) and H. Lofgren, M. Leahy and E. de Leeuw (eds) Democratizing Health: Consumer Groups in the Policy Process (Edward Elgar, 2011).

Professor Baogang He, Deakin University

Baogang He, Ph.D (ANU), MA (People's University of China), BA (Hangzhou University, China), is currently Chair in International Studies at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University. Professor He has published four single-authored books and four co-authored books, 50 international refereed journal articles, 43 book chapters, 20 book reviews, and numerous Chinese publications. He received the Mayer Prize from the APSA in 1994; five ARC Discovery Grants, and numerous grants from the US State Department, the Fulbright Commission, the Ford Foundation, and the National University of Singapore (amounting to a total of about A$1,250,000). His publications deal with a wide range of issues such as deliberation, participation, citizenship, federalism, multiculturalism, civil society, national identity questions in relation to Chinese democratization.

Professor Prakash Sarangi, University of Hyderabad

Prakash Sarangi is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Hyderabad. He holds an MA from Delhi University and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester (USA). He has been teaching since 1975 and became a Professor in 1998. He was on the faculty of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar and was an Academic Fellow at the American Studies Research Centre, Hyderabad before joining the University of Hyderabad in 1987. He was a Head of the Department of Political Science during 2004-2007 and was the Director of Study in India (SIP) Programme during 2006-08 and Pro-Vice-Chancellor during 2009-10. Professor Sarangi's academic interests revolve around democratic theory and practice. His current research is on the impact of globalization on democratic politics and institutions.

Associate Professor Manjari Katju, University of Hyderabad

Manjari Katju is author of Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics, (Orient Blackswan 2003, paperback 2010). Her other recent publications include 'The Understanding of Freedom in Hindutva', Social Scientist (2011); 'Plagiarism and Social Sciences', Economic and Political Weekly (2011); 'Election Commission and Functioning of Democracy in India', Economic and Political Weekly (2006); 'Mobilisation for Hindutva', in Ram Puniyani, (ed). Religion,Power and Violence: Expression of Politics in Contemporary Times (Sage Publications, 2005). Her research interests include Hindu right-wing politics; religious violence in India; and the functioning of state institutions in India.

Dr Amy Nethery, Deakin University

Amy Nethery lectures in Politics and Policy Studies at Deakin University, in the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation. Her PhD thesis, entitled Immigration Detention in Australia (2010), was awarded the Isi Leibler prize. Her research assesses the degree to which migration policies accord with democratic principles. Current projects examine migration and asylum policies in Australia and Asia, histories and theories of incarceration, and democracy.


Professor K.C. Suri
Phone: +91 40 23133212

Dr Amy Nethery
Phone: +61 3 924 68988

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