More than opinion expression: Secondary effects of intraparty referendums on party members

Alexander Wuttke, Andreas Jungherr, Harald Schoen
  • Party Politics, December 2017, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1354068817745729

Vitalizing party organizations by expanding member participation?

What is it about?

We investigate the consequences of participating in an intra-party issue referendum. Will political parties appear more attractive after expanding participatory rights? Will attitudes towards their party change after members participated in an intra-party referendum? Will the relationship between party elites and the rank-and-file change? The study demonstrates that referendum can change how members perceive their party. Who is allowed to decide on political, feels empower in the role as party member. Members learned during the campaign about intra-party politics and judge party elites more strongly along their own convictions.

Why is it important?

Membership in political parties is shrinking. Parties respond by expanding intra-party participation. Can this work? Our party informs contemporary debates about expanding intra-party democracy.


Alexander Wuttke
Universitat Mannheim

This study investigates one selected instance of intra-party participation. Participation may yields different effects in other political parties, depending on the political and historical context. We thus encourage scholars to conduct longitudinal surveys of party members more frequently to investigate the consequences of intra-party events from a comprehensive perspective on a variety of outcomes in various political contexts.

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