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Explaining party membership in old and new democracies: institutional and demand-side variables

Abstract

Researchers on party membership put forward behavioral changes and institutional variables as the main factors behind the fluctuations of membership figures across countries. Yet, the institutional factors have never been systematically put to the empirical test on a large-scale database. By comparing membership figures and rates (ratio party members/voters) in Latin America and Europe, the first goal of this project is to fill in this gap. Furthermore, those supply-side explanations cannot explain why this decline affects some parties more than others. Demand-side explanations, rooted in the literature on party organizations, can bring additional insights. The second goal of this project is to investigate party-related factors of membership fluctuations. This project therefore addresses the question of membership levels across polities and parties, focusing on both institutional and party-related explanations. Our main institutional variables are the length of democratic experience, the type of regime, the size of the polity, and the state structure (federal or unitary). Our main party-related variables look into the impact of party affiliation rules, electoral performances, governmental participation, and party system. This project expands the data collection beyond advanced democracies. The selected cases in Latin America are Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Peru. In Europe, we will rely on the existing MAPP dataset that covers 31 countries. We will select the major parties in each system. (AU)

Articles published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the research grant: