European political parties have been recruiting members for over a century. However, ‘parties without partisans’ are conceivable today. Clearly, parties are changing, whether they are mutating, adapting or declining. Read More
It is crucial to understand the changes which affect party membership. It may indirectly affect the capacity of parties to perform their various functions in representative democracies.
This book aims at contributing to three major topics related to the study of party membership. The first part of the book is dedicated to the analysis of the general trends in party membership across Europe in a comparative and long-term perspective. It tackles some questions which have not received clear answers yet: Can we attest a decline in the long term? How can we interpret the changes over time? What are the potential explanations for the trends observed? In the second part of the book, the contributions focus on the demand side, i.e. on parties and their assessment of membership, based on case studies. It offers an in-depth look inside the parties and attempts to answer questions such as: How do parties recruit their members? How do they evaluate this resource and manufacture their membership? The final part of the book reverses the focus and examines party membership at the micro level (supply side), based on interviews and party membership surveys. It deals with questions like: How do members see their role in the party? What influence do they claim? How do they take action?
This book provides new insights into party membership in Europe. Party membership decline should refer more specifically to mass-based parties or parties which traditionally develop stronger ties with other organisations. On the other hand, some parties are recruiting members when implementing strategies in favourable historical or institutional contexts. Finally, the book emphasizes that joining is not everything and urges to go beyond the classic questions of joining to study intra-party dynamics and processes.
This book is published in the framework of the IAP scientific network PARTIREP supported by the Belgian Science Policy. It gathers chapters from some of the best specialists on party membership in Europe and is edited by Émilie van Haute.