Political Parties as Epistemic Actors
Rational actor theory and public choice have by tradition a sceptical view on the role of political parties in democracies. This is partly rooted in the aim of the pioneers of public choice to align the democratic process as closely as possible to market processes. From this point of view representative democracy is only a second-best solution and political parties are not solution devices but rather add to the problems. They worsen the diffusion of responsibilities and make it even more difficult to ascribe individual accountability to political representatives. This bleak picture needs correcting. My focus is on the epistemic dimensions of democracy. This focus leads to a substantial change in the estimation of representative democracy and a different view of the role and function of political parties. I will conclude by contrasting my ideal-typical picture with the current rise of populism.