As typified by Ukraine and Egypt, most of the semi- or non-democratic countries in the EU’s neighbourhood pretend to offer a degree of political pluralism. The standard is for a plurality of parties to run in national elections and participate in parliamentary sessions. In contrast to fully fledged democracies, however, these electoral rituals have little bearing on the composition of government and its policy output, which remains entirely dominated by the executive institutions and parties of power. This paper argues that the trademarks of these types of parties are a serious stumbling block for the development of a multi-party system based on competing ideological currents. For democracy to take hold in the EU’s eastern and southern neighbourhood of the EU, it is crucial that the logic of parties of power be replaced by one structured around autonomous and ideologically cohesive parties. Thus, both ideological and organisational party-building should be an integral part of the EU’s policy agenda to promote the spread of democracy in these regions.