About ISPO

The Institute for Comparative Political Research was established as a platform for implementing a research plan of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Physical Fitness entitled “Political Parties and Representation of Interests in Contemporary European Democracies (code MSM0021622407). The recipient of this grant, which is to be implemented during the period 2005-2010, is Rector of Masaryk University PhDr. Petr Fiala, Ph.D. The program is being implemented through the Faculty of Social Studies, with significant cooperation from members of other political science departments in Brno.

The results of the research plan are subject to regular internal and external evaluations, which are based mainly on evaluation of previous published contributions by members of the implementation team.

Internal evaluations take place within the individual working groups, while external evaluation is carried out by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Physical Fitness and/or Masaryk University.

Description

The purpose of the ISPO is to research the role of political parties and other political actors in the process of interest representation under conditions of multi-leveled governance. Research is concentrated not only on established political parties, but on a broad spectrum of interest groups (for example labor unions, the church, ecological and social movements, media, etc.).

All of the above-mentioned actors work and act on a number of political levels (local, regional, state, and European) that are all linked to some extent and influence one another. Research must be approached with a multi-dimensional viewpoint in mind so that the analysis is capable of encompassing phenomena connected with what scholars call multi-level governance. Multi-dimensionality has led to dynamic changes in the structure, communications, and organizational models of political actors and the relationships between them.  

It is also clearly necessary to update or expand the menu of conceptual and methodological instruments that can assist in analyzing the phenomena to be researched. It is necessary to modify the classic concept of the political party system and their functions, a concept which today is focused more on the national context. The glossary of terms pertaining to the theory of political parties, and the braches of political science dealing with research on parties and party systems, must be expanded to make possible an effective description and analysis of these processes, and a satisfying explanation of them including their character, dynamics, and consequences.

The Czech Republic has not escaped the process of “layering” of the exercise of power, particularly in the context of the ongoing structural and functional transformation; however, original Czech research shows some significant deficits in comparison with West European political science research.

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