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New Challenges of Intra-Party Democracy: Grassroots Activists, Instant Members, and Cyber-Militants

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Abstract

Political parties in established parliamentary democracies are confronting three strong trends that change their relationships to supporters: declining voter loyalty, declining party membership, and the declining importance of cleavage politics. This chapter will highlight two organizational responses to such challenges: the expansion of intra-party democracy and the introduction of new forms of party membership. These changes are generally presented by parties as responses to supporters’ weakening ties. Yet party supporters are seldom a homogenous group, and party voters and party members do not necessarily share identical priorities. Thus, parties that expand internal democracy may unintentionally create new conflicts between the member ‘stakeholders’ and the political ‘consumers’ who are the party’s potential voters. This chapter uses examples from Great Britain and Canada to illustrate some of the different ways that parties in these countries have been handling the potential conflicts created by shifts towards more open and more internally democratic party organizations.

Keywords

  • Organizational Boundary
  • Direct Democracy
  • Leadership Election
  • Party Member
  • Labour Party

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© 2013 Susan E. Scarrow

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Scarrow, S.E. (2013). New Challenges of Intra-Party Democracy: Grassroots Activists, Instant Members, and Cyber-Militants. In: Avril, E., Zumello, C. (eds) New Technology, Organizational Change and Governance. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137264237_6

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