Political parties provide continuity at the elite level and among the mass electorate in times when “populist” forces threaten the stability of many western democracies. The parties, however, have experienced turbulent times with declining memberships among the established parties, volatile electorates and the emergence of new parties. This edited collection aims to make an analytical contribution to what “party democracy” means, how to study it and add to our knowledge of who the party members are, what they do and how influential they are in policy-making processes. Clearly, elections provide linkage at regular intervals. Does party membership, even after membership decline, provide a supplementary, representative linkage that supports democracy and stability in “post-cleavage” societies?
Nordic party systems have kept central elements of their old “five party systems”, with (mostly) large social democratic parties and a variable geometry of the conservative, liberal, agrarian and left socialist forces. They have experienced the electoral rise of new parties and – in particular - the increasing strength of vote-catching, anti-establishment parties; in most countries nurtured by anti-immigration sentiments. In contrast to much recent scholarship, this book investigates the stable element in Nordic mass politics, namely the parties as membership organisations: How many members? Why do they join parties? How much do they participate? Do they experience political influence? The overall question is to what extent the party organizations, which have been heavily “statified” by public subsidies, keep up linkage to civil society through their membership.
List of Figures
List of Tables
1. Nordic Party Democracies
Part I: Reach: Party Membership and Member Recruitment
2. Nordic Party Membership Trends, Niklas Bolin, Karina Kosiara-Pedersen and Gunmar Helgi Kristinsson
3. Why Do Members Join Parties? Knut Heidar and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen
Part II: Representation: Social and Political
4. Who Are the Party Members and Are They Representative of the Party Voters?, Knut Heidar,, Gunmar Helgi Kristinsson, Artuu Saarinen, Aki Koivula and Teo Keipi
5. Parties’ Ideological Representation in the Nordic Countries: Comparing Party Voters, Members and Candidates, Jonathan Polk and Ann-Kristin Kölln
6. United or Divided? Preferential Agreement among Party Members in Scandinavia, Sofie Blombäck, Anders Ravik Jupskås and Jonas Hinnfors
Part III: Activity: Participation and Types of Party Members
7. The Degree, Type and Quality of Participation: Dimensions in Participation, Knut Heidar and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen
8. Party Workers, Ambassadors, Veterans and All the Other Party Members, Knut Heidar and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen
9. Explaining Party Member Activism, Anders Ravik Jupskås and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen
Part IV: Influence: Perceptions of Power and Demands for Voice
10. Party Members’ Perception of Intra-Party Democracy, Niklas Bolin and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen
11. A Break in the Representative Chain: Party Members’ Ideological Disagreement with Candidates and Demands for Intra-Party Democracy, Ann-Kristin Kölln and Jonathan Polk
Part V: Conclusion
12. The Current State and Future Challenges of Nordic Party Membership Linkage, Marie Demker, Knut Heidar and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen
About the Authors
Marie Demker, Professor of Political Science and Dean at the Faculty of Arts, Gothenburg.
Knut Heidar is Professor of Political Science at the University of Oslo, Norway.
Karina Kosiara-Pedersen is Associate Professor in Political Science at University of Copenhagen.
This is an impressive and comprehensive comparative study of party members in all the five Nordic countries. The various chapters examine many important topics in research on party members such as trends in party membership, social and political representation, party members’ political activity and their political influence.
Oddbjørn Knutsen, Department of Political Science, University of Oslo.