Comparing Incentives and Party Activism in US and Europe: PSOE, PP and the California Democratic Party
20 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2013 Last revised: 22 Nov 2013
Date Written: 2013
This paper analyses the incentives of party activists to become involved in the party life. In the last decades, the research on party activism has developed several and relevant works that shed light to the topic. However, a strong division from the beginning between the American and European approaches has limited the scope of their results, eroding the potential of the comparative analysis between both partisan worlds. Our paper is an attempt to overcome this lack. Using data from party activists in two Spanish political parties, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP), and the California Democratic Party (CADEM), we propose two main hypothesis: a) the different types of party membership (more formal in Europe than in the US) affects the incentives of party activists to become involved; b) these incentives influences differently in US and Europe to the degree of internal activism. We considered two different typologies to measure incentives proposed by J.Q. Wilson and A. Panebianco. The empirical analysis employs data from people attending the recent party conventions and congresses in those parties. Our results are somewhat mixed overall. Although some significant differences in incentives and activism arises, the general comparison shows that party activists are not so different as the traditional American ‘exceptionalism’ and European ‘regionalism’ have assumed so far.
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