Phill Magakoe/AFP/Getty Images

The Death of the Party

Today, once-great political parties in the West and some developing countries seem to be going the way of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But whereas the CPSU’s demise was perfectly logical, the decline of major political parties in countries like France, India, and South Africa is not so easy to explain.

MOSCOW – Nearly 26 years ago, President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree that effectively banned Communist Party organs from operating in factories, universities, and all other workplaces across the Russian Federation. But Yeltsin’s bold decree was, in some ways, superfluous: the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), once a fearsome organizational weapon, had already been decimated by its own incompetence and brutality, to the point that the public was simply indifferent to it.

Today, once-great political parties in the West and some developing countries also seem to be on a fast track to oblivion. But whereas the CPSU’s demise was perfectly logical – Yeltsin’s decree came just months before the Soviet Union’s collapse – the decline of major political parties in countries like France and India is not so easy to explain.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has just secured a massive majority in the French National Assembly for his own year-old movement, ostensibly consigning the Socialist Party – with which Macron himself was affiliated while serving as economy minister – to Trotsky’s dustbin of history. France’s other major mainstream party – the center-right Republicans, rooted in Charles de Gaulle’s political legacy – does not seem to be doing much better.

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