Presentation on theme: "Readings: Ware CH 2 and D/W CH 5. What are supporters? Members? Activists? What role do they play in the functioning of political parties? How do."— Presentation transcript:
What are supporters? Members? Activists? What role do they play in the functioning of political parties? How do political parties convince voters to join? Are members as important to parties today as they were a few decades ago? Is the oft-cited decline in party membership a danger for political parties?
Supporters: individuals which support a party but rarely do more than vote. ◦ Rarely require policy influence in return. Members: supporters who provide income for the party via membership dues. ◦ Although many do little other than pay their dues. Activists: voters whose support extends beyond paying dues. ◦ Provides volunteer labor for the party. ◦ Often expect policy influence in return.
Supporters, members, and activists provide valuable resources for political parties. But parties vary on how much emphasis they place on each. ◦ Cadre parties prefer supporters rather than members. ◦ Mass parties emphasized a large membership. Great for creating networks to spread ideology. ◦ Catch-all parties attempt to draw voters from “outside” their base Emphasis placed on pulling in supporters during election time. No real need for a membership base.
Political activists can provide a strong workforce base for parties regardless of party type. ◦ But activists typically want policy commitments in exchange for their labor. ◦ And what activists want and what supporters want can be different. Ideological zeal can hurt catch all strategies.
Parties may depend on assistance from the voting public, but relationships between parties and voters have changed. ◦ Party membership is declining in most advanced democracies. ◦ Rising levels of electoral volatility (change in support for a given party in between elections) suggests that parties are drawing on a declining support base.
Why not just farm out party functions to paid professionals? Members, supporters and activists: ◦ 1) Provide support for a given program or ideology. ◦ 2) Volunteers provide more effective assistance than hired labor. Increased commitment useful for parties. ◦ 3) Campaign finance laws typically prohibit using funds for certain activities. Volunteers can perform these functions. ◦ 4) Party leaders rely on a support base to counter the effects of other organized interests within the party. ◦ 5) Members and activists generate party resources.
Fiorina 1999 ◦ Not easily. ◦ Political participation is costly. Intrinsic model of participation: ◦ E(P) = p(B) – c ◦ You participate if the benefits outweigh the costs. Given the low likelihood your individual action will be decisive, costs outweigh benefits. Parties try to overcome this collective action problem by providing incentives. ◦ Two types: selective and purposive.
Selective incentives: attempt to boost the benefits of participation relative to the costs. ◦ Two types: material and solidary Material incentives: monetary or other material inducements in exchange for political support. ◦ Most forms are no longer available or are of questionable legality in advanced systems. Solidary incentives: collective benefits accrued by belonging to a group or organization. ◦ Useful for mass parties. ◦ Changing societal factors have reduced the appeal of solidary incentives
Purposive incentives tap into expressive functions of voters. ◦ Offer opportunities to assist the party in spreading policy/ideology. Fiorina 1999 ◦ Expressive model of participation: E(P) = p(B) – c + e Activists seeking purposive rewards expect parties to deliver on their issues. ◦ Strains catch all appeals. Single issues rather than encompassing ideology draw activists in modern parties. ◦ Support depends on issue salience.
PROBLEMATICNOT PROBLEMATIC Kirchheimer 1966 ◦ Catch all parties fail to integrate new groups/voters into society. Ware 1996 ◦ May provide opportunities for extreme voices to hijack parties. Dalton et al. 1999 ◦ Decline in voter participation may weaken attachments to elections. Citizens may view protests, petitions, demonstrations, etc. as more effective. Epstein 1967 Allows parties to jettison more ideological components. Scarrow 2000 Admits that membership numbers are declining ◦ But is not convinced that this decline is necessarily problematic for parties or democracy. Decline may be due to other unrelated factors.
Scarrow 2000 Identifies three “myths” about declining membership and party organizational strength. Argues that: ◦ 1) The “Golden Era” (mid century) of mass parties was unique. Should not be held up as the baseline for comparison. ◦ 2) Membership decline is not synonymous with weaker organizational strength. ◦ 3) Political parties still find members useful. Bottom line: parties rely on a smaller, but more active membership.
As party organizations have evolved, their reliance on supporters, members, and activists have changed. ◦ Voters are increasingly reluctant to become active in party organizations. Relying on material incentives to boost support is no longer an option in most advanced democracies. ◦ Selective incentives are declining in utility. The most useful type of incentives (purposive) can often create problems for parties. ◦ Example: UK Labour 1979-1997, UK Conservatives 1997- 2010 Some posit that declining party membership is dangerous. ◦ While others argue that parties are adapting to new social/political challenges.
Theme: Party Organization-Cartel Parties ◦ Readings: Ware CH 3 Dalton and Wattenberg CH 6 Reserves: Katz and Mair