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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.

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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:

1 Readings: Ware CH 2 and D/W CH 5

2  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?

3  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.

4  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.

5  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.

6  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.

7  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.

8  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.

9  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

10  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.

11 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 ◦ 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.

12  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.

13  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 , UK Conservatives  Some posit that declining party membership is dangerous. ◦ While others argue that parties are adapting to new social/political challenges.

14  Theme: Party Organization-Cartel Parties ◦ Readings:  Ware CH 3  Dalton and Wattenberg CH 6  Reserves: Katz and Mair


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