Plutocrat parties - personal parties created by wealthy individuals - are on the rise in both old and new democracies. Examples include Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia in Italy, Andrej Babis's ANO in the Czech Republic, Frank Stronach's Team Stronach in Austria, Thaksin Shinawatra's Thai Rak Thai party in Thailand and Clive Palmer's Palmer United Party in Australia. To date, however, there have been no comparative studies of such parties based on original research. In this seminar we seek to establish what distinguishes these parties both from other types of parties and from one another. We focus on two cases: the archetypal 'plutocrat party', Forza Italia, and one of the most recent instances, the Palmer United Party. Based on interviews with internal party figures and analysis of party documents, the paper examines how these parties are organised, the role of the leader and how this affects the party. Finally, the paper discusses which factors may determine the success/failure of plutocrat parties and we consider what their emergence means for party theory.
23 Oct 2015
Institute for the Study of Social Change Seminar Series