Giovanni Sartori famously wrote that political parties do not need to be mini-republics, yet today parties in many parliamentary democracies are moving in this direction by giving their members direct votes over important decisions, including selecting party leaders and settling policy issues. This paper explores some of the implications of these changes. It asks whether the addition of membership rights affects the types of members who are attracted: do we find a bigger gap between the preferences of party members and of party voters in parties that are more plebiscitary, as literature on members' motivations might lead us to expect? The paper examines this question both cross-sectionally and longitudinally using opinion data from the European Social Survey and newly-available party organizational data from the Political Party Database project.
MPSA (Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association)
Thursday, 7 April, 2016 to Tuesday, 10 May, 2016