The Regulation of Political Participation Across Party Organizations

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Giulia SANDRI, Universite Catholique de Lille, France
Felix VON NOSTITZ, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
Over the past decades, the diversity among possible types of party membership increased significantly with the introduction of new participatory opportunities that challenge the very notion of formal party membership, widening the possibility for individuals to interact and participate in very different ways with the party (Gauja, 2013; Scarrow, 2014). The paper accounts for the growing diversity in the forms of involvement within political organizations and intra-party democracy on the basis of an original comparative database exploring the regulation of party affiliation forms in 14 established democracies (10 European counties and US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). The main dimension of analysis concern the rights and obligation of supporters and members, the fees for different types of affiliation, the degree of decentralization of the recruitment procedure, and other variables measuring the organizational boundaries of parties. The central questions addressed by our paper are the following: who are party supporters? To what extent they contribute to party life across different party types and families? We will classify supporters based on their degree of involvement in party activities. As Maor (1997) outlined, different party types imply different types of membership. Also, since the development of the cartel party thesis (Mair and Katz 1995) scholars have linked different party types with different party member characteristics. Our database allows us to test these often theoretical claims empirically. Thus, party type will be our independent variable and regulation of “party supporter” category of dependent variable. Overall, the paper will provide insight into how the current diversity of interaction of society with parties is regulated and whether membership diversity is truly integrated into the overall party structure or remains mainly external and unregulated. Thus the paper provides a first much needed overview in order to enable future research, studying the diversity of interaction with political parties.