The decline of membership-based politics.

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    • Abstract:
      In one of his last publications, Peter Mair documented how party membership had declined substantially in virtually all European democracies. As his collaborators on this piece, it seems pertinent that we take these findings as a point of departure and discuss what they mean for our understanding of party democracy. After all, the collapse of membership figures calls into question one of the central elements of our conceptualization of representative democracy, namely that it is based on voluntary political participation within political parties. All authoritative typologies of political parties consider the role of members to be one of their defining elements, although the cartel party most clearly envisages the marginalization of party members by professional party politicians. The traditional organizational allies of political parties (e.g. trade unions, organized religion) are subject to similar processes of erosion. In this article, we review the evidence of the social anchorage of political parties and discuss how political parties and party democracy can survive in an age where amateur politicians are becoming an increasingly rare species and parties are being transformed into organizational vehicles for those to whom politics is a profession rather than a vocation. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]
    • Abstract:
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