Crafting Mass Partisanship at the Grass Roots, from the Top Down
British Journal of Political Science, Forthcoming
34 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2012 Last revised: 22 Jan 2014
Date Written: February 26, 2012
What are the sources of mass partisanship? We focus on the role of party organizational strategies in Brazil, a case where sociological cleavages are weak. All Brazilian parties post electoral gains by opening local branch offices, but only the Workers' Party (PT) manages to also win voters' hearts and minds, cultivating mass partisan identification. The PT's cultivation of mass partisanship follows from its deliberate effort to use its local party organization to reach out to organized civil society --- to "mobilize the organized." Results further indicate that the PT only gains partisan identifiers where civil society is organizationally dense. Together, this suggests that party strategy to cultivate partisanship is insufficient: pre-existing organizational networks must exist in civil society, meaning that 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' strategies can be the flip sides of the same coin.
Keywords: parties, political institutions, elections
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