Maakondlike ja kohalike organisatsioonide roll Eesti erakondade struktuuris
Political parties as multi-level organizations have become a popular subject for research in recent years (see e.g Thorlakson 2009; Allern ja Saglie 2010; Fabre 2011; Reiser ja Vetter 2011). They are no more exclusively unitary collective actors. Most of them operate at the same time on several power levels – the national level, regional and local level and, within the European Union, the European level as well. (Allern and Saglie 2010, 2). Richard S. Katz has said: „In many cases ( /.../), however, to treat parties as unitary actors would be to dismiss an important – some cases perhaps even the most important – aspect of politics“ (Katz 2005, 87). Secondly, the widespread local presence of parties shows their organizational strength, which is important for democratic consolidation (Tavits 2011). Most of the pointed analyses are in the light of cartel party theory, which states that the relationships between different party faces are more stratarchical than hierarchical. Each face of the party is becoming increasingly autonomous of the others. (Mair 1994, 17) In Estonia we still lack the knowledge about the territorial structure of parties – organizational units, their role and power relationship. The aim of this bachelor’s thesis is to fill the gap by analysing the role of county and municipal party branches in Estonian party structure and comparing its similarity with particular party model. To achieve the purpose of this work I have set the following research tasks: 1) to propose an analytical framework which is suitable for the Estonian case; 2) to describe the party's organizational structure in different party models by using theoretical literature and to define the main functions among the sub-national party branches within different party types and the power relationship with party elite; 3) to analyse party statutes; 4) to formulate questions and interview party representatives to confirm and specify the results of the party statutes analysis; 5) to make conclusions and consider possible links with certain party models. Reviewing existing literature, analysing party statutes and the data collected by interviews I found that in Estonia county and municipality party branches are chiefly the agents of national party, carrying out party policy at the local level. County party branches co-ordinate the activities of municipal party branches and also function as information channels between the central office of the party and the municipal party branches. Municipal party branches deal with local questions. In particular, the functions of county and municipal party branches are connected with member administration, local elections, nominating candidates to parliamentary elections and collecting the opinions of members. There are no significant differences between parties. The organizational structure is starting to equalize. The activities of county and municipal party branches are important for parties. Looking at the roles of county and municipal party branches we can find links with all the mentioned party types (mass party, catch-all party, cartel party and modern elite party). The roles of county and municipal party branches in Estonia are a combination of these models. It can be explained by the impact of Estonian territorial structure.