This chapter investigates whether variations in party affiliation rules have political consequences, looking in particular at their effects on partisan participation. The research presented here combines data from the Political Party Database with surveys of party members and party supporters, looking for evidence of whether potential affiliates’ behaviour is sensitive to the relative costs of party membership. The data suggest that such sensitivity exists, with supporters being more likely to join parties which offer more benefits, and which offer membership at a lower price. They are also less likely to acquire traditional membership if cheaper affiliation options exist. Conversely, when membership is relatively costly, those who do join are more likely to use their membership by being active in the party. Our findings provide some support for demand-side views of party membership, according to which political parties are able to use membership rules to affect who joins a party.
Organising Representation: Political Parties, Participation, and Power
Oxford University Press