Presentations of new research on party members

Next week assistant professor Jonathan Polk and postdoc Ann-Kristin Kölln, both from the Department of Political Science at Gothenburg University, will visit the department.

18.08.2015 | Thomas Jeppe Jensen

Dato man 24 aug
Tid 12:30 14:30
Sted The large meeting room (1330-126)

They will present their current research on party members in a seminar on Monday, August 24, at 12.30-14.30 in the large meeting room (1330-126). Titles and abstracts for their presentations are below.

You are all very welcome at the presentations!


Ann-Kristin Kölln and Jonathan Polk: What are the causes and consequences of ideological incongruence within parties?

Abstract: Party members across European democracies exercise increasingly more influence on parties’ policy platforms or personnel choices. Parties benefit most from the expansion of intra-party democracy if members hold similar views and if those views are largely in correspondence with the party elite. This paper investigates ideological (in)congruence on the left-right spectrum between members and the party as a whole by drawing on a party membership survey of seven political parties in Sweden. In a two-step analysis, the paper first studies some of the potential party- and individual-level causes of ideological incongruence. In a second step it also identifies and tests the attitudinal and behaviour consequences of incongruence for party members.


Ann-Kristin Kölln: Party membership decline and the paradox of party size and ideological cohesion

Abstract: European party systems are in flux. Electoral newcomers increasingly challenge established parties, and the societal hold of parties is decreasing with ever fewer citizens identifying with or enrolling in a political party. Membership decline is widespread, yet not without exceptions. While democratic theory stresses the importance of parties for the democratic process, the literature is divided over the effects of declining party size on ideological party cohesion. Do smaller parties have a clearer message? According to one view, smaller parties should be more ideologically cohesive because they do not need to accommodate everyone’s opinion. However, new theoretical insights on partisanship and parties imply that ideological cohesion might be more likely amongst large parties because they have more supporters who spread the message and who ensure it gets communicated correctly. The proposed project will investigate the empirical basis for each view by analysing a combination of survey and official data on 47 European parties. In light of declining partisanship and party membership across Europe, the results have important implications for democratic accountability. For, if shrinking parties are associated with lower ideological cohesion, today’s voters might have more difficulty distinguishing between parties at elections than before, which lowers voters’ ability to hold politicians accountable.

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