Party Membership in Europe - EUB

Party Membership in Europe

Exploration into the anthills of party politics
First Edition

Edited by Émilie van Haute

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.

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Éditions de l'Université de Bruxelles
Edited by
Émilie van Haute,
Contributions by
Oscar Barberà, Astrid Barrio, Pascal Delwit, Florence Haegel, Alexandra Ionascu, Pat Lyons, Sofie Marien, Teun Pauwels, Robin T. Pettitt, Ellen Quintelier, Juan Rodríguez Teruel, Giulia Sandri, Sorina Soare, Émilie van Haute, Wijbrandt H. van Schuur, Gerrit Voerman,
Political Science
Publisher Category
Publishers own classification > Political Science
BISAC Subject Heading
POL015000 POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties
Onix Audience Codes
06 Professional and scholarly
CLIL (Version 2013-2019)
Subject Scheme Identifier Code
Thema subject category: Political parties and party platforms


Publication Date
03 October 2011
Main content page count : 232
160 x 240 x 11 cm
389 grams
Version 2.1, Version 3

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Chapter I. – Party membership: An under-studied mode of political participation | Émilie VAN HAUTE
PART I – General trends in party membership in Europe
Chapter II. – Still in decline? Party membership in Europe | Pascal DELWIT
Chapter III. – Trends in Party membership in Europe. Investigation into the reasons for declining party membership | Sofie MARIEN & Ellen QUINTELIER
PART II – The demand side: Parties and their membership
Chapter IV. – Cultivating large membership rolls: The Romanian case | Alexandra IONASCU & Sorina SOARE
Chapter V. – Dutch political parties and their members | Gerrit VOERMAN & Wijbrandt VAN SCHUUR
Chapter VI. – How to manufacture party membership: The case of the French UMP | Florence HAEGEL
Chapter VII. – Political developments and party changes in Catalonia (1995-2007) | Oscar BARBERÀ, Astrid BARRIO & Juan RODRÍGUEZ
PART III – The supply side: Members and their party
Chapter VIII. – The role of party members in Belgian and Italian parties: A cross-national analysis | Giulia SANDRI & Teun PAUWELS
Chapter IX. – Choosing a leader: An examination of party members’ preferences in a leadership election | Pat LYONS
Chapter X. – Who voices? Socialisation process and ideological profile of discontented party members | Émilie VAN HAUTE
Chapter XI. – Democratic ideals vs. oligarchic reality: Membership influence on policy in the British Labour Party | Robin PETTITT
Biographical notes