Fernando Henrique Cardoso, two-term President of Brazil, sociologist, professor, politician and reputed to be one of the world’s top public intellectuals, wrote a piece entitled Political Parties in Foreign Policy magazine:
“We take it for granted that political parties are vital to modern political life. They have shaped representative democracies since the late 19th century. Yet, their prospects are not bright in today’s large democracies. In fact, these powerful political machines may soon disappear. The ground is already shifting underneath their feet. Political parties have based their platforms on ideological and class divides that are becoming less important, especially in more advanced societies. Although class consciousness still matters, ethnic, religious, and sexual identities now trump class, and these affiliations cut across traditional political party lines. Today, the labels left and right have less and less meaning. Citizens have developed multiple interests, diverse senses of belonging, and overlapping identities… Political dislocation exists alongside a growing fatigue with traditional forms of political representation.
People no longer trust the political establishment. They want a greater say in public matters and usually prefer to voice their interests directly or through interest groups and nongovernmental organizations. Thanks to modern communication, citizens’ groups can bypass political parties in shaping public policy. Political parties no longer have a lock on legitimacy”.