representative democracy got stuck in the 19th century when it comes to the use of media. the web would allow for a decidedly different process of decision making. whether parties as a form of organization still need to be part of this process seems more than doubtful. in their current shape they first of all serve the purpose of shielding the voters’ voices from the political decision making.
With that they follow pretty much the model that Max Weber used to call “Stellenjägerparteien” (M.Weber: Politik als Beruf,21) – job hunters associations.
Liquidifying the process of decision-making could be a solution, but with caution. If software just becomes the interface of a party structure, not much is solved. Preferably the parties should be turend into interface of a web-based decision platform. and at some point one might want to replace them by other forms of organizing the decision making.
Useful source for the state of discussions:
Stefan Jabbusch 2011 – Liquid Democracy in der Piratenpartei
with a brief hint to the direct legislation initiative of William U’Ren.