Departing from an organizational perspective and using the cases of Socialist International and four European trade unions, this paper illustrates why political parties and trade unions have difficulty acting globally. The analysis shows that international or transnational organizations for national parties or trade unions are established as meta-organizations, and herein lies the key to explaining their problems in becoming global actors. The national embeddedness of their members results in broad agendas and quests for national solutions, which divides and weakens leadership. Comparing these meta-organizations to a more successful global political organization, Amnesty International, reveals that its organization is quite the opposite: a centralized leadership, a narrow agenda, not working for the immediate interests of its members or finding solutions to the issues it raises. The paper concludes that if this form of organization is necessary in global politics then there is little room for political parties and unions on a global arena.

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