This paper presents a number of provisional and incomplete ideas and reflections about the long-term forces that shaped the emergence, consolidation and eventual possible decline of the specific Western political institution of political parties. The text has a limited apparatus of bibliographical notes.
I will be presenting three distinct macro-constellations of factors that roughly correspond to the phase of party rise and growth, in the second half of the 19th century up to W.W.I, of party consolidation, in the remaining part of the 20th century, and of party decline into the 21st century. The first two constellations draw on historical materials and accumulated research. On the contrary, the third has a more speculative nature. I take the lead from a number of changes in the environment and organisation of parties and extrapolate them to build a possible scenario for the next few decades.