English title: The Dynamics of Decline: Political Parties in the European Democracies, 2002-2010.

Author(s): Paul Whiteley -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2014


Party membership and activism has been declining in the advanced industrial democracies for many years. It is a development that has the potential to weaken democracy because it undermines political parties which are the core institutions of civil society. This paper tests the ‘state capture’ hypothesis which explains this development in terms of the growth in the state regulation of parties over time. The hypothesis is that growing regulation reduces the incentives for individuals to join and become active in political parties. It is tested by modelling trends in party involvement in some thirty advanced democracies over a period of eight years with the assistance of the European Social Survey cumulative file. Using a multi-level modelling approach in a dynamic setting, the results show that state capture has weakened both party activism and party membership. In addition there is evidence to suggest that it has weakened partisanship in the wider electorate as well, although this effect is indirect and works through incentives to participate in voluntary activities.

Conference name: Contemporary Meanings of Party Membership

Location: Salamanca

Start date: Apr 10, 2014

Type: Paper

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