ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Descriptive Representation Within Political Parties: A Cross-Strata Examination from the Ground Up

Elites
Gender
Political Parties
Representation
Political Sociology
Candidate
William Cross
Carleton University
William Cross
Carleton University

Abstract

Political parties are meant to connect governing institutions with civil society. Crucial to the successful fulfilling of this mandate is the representative inclusion, within the parties, of the different societal groups within a polity (gender, ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, religion, etc.). In considering how parties are performing this representative function it is imperative to acknowledge that they are not unitary organizations but rather exist at different levels, each with different groups of participants. The different strata of parties include parliamentarians, campaign officials, parliamentary candidates, party activists and party members/supporters. While interconnected, each of these groups exists independently and, consistent with the stratarchical view of party organization, exercise varying degrees of decision-making authority within the party. In this paper, I examine the descriptive representative of each layer of the party. The empirical analysis is based on data collected from a series of surveys conducted after the 2015 Canadian federal election in the five parties represented in the Canadian parliament. Discrete surveys were conducted of party members, local party branch presidents and parliamentary candidates. Additional information was gathered on parliamentarians, national and regional campaign officials and individuals who sought (unsuccessfully) a party nomination. The party member data allows for further classification of activist and passive members and the local branch survey collected data on the representativeness of branch office holders. The result is a unique and comprehensive data set allowing for examination, across party types and across the different strata of the party, of descriptive representation with parties. The data also allows for consideration of the variables that influence the relative inclusion of various groups within the different strata (for example, what influences the number of female parliamentary candidates).