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Purified or All the Same? Member – Voter Congruence in Denmark and Norway

Political Participation
Political Parties
Representation
Party Members
Political Activism
Knut Heidar
Universitetet i Oslo
Jonas Hedegaard Hansen
University of Copenhagen
Knut Heidar
Universitetet i Oslo
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Abstract

Does decline in party membership lead to less representative parties? To answer this question we look at changes among Danish and Norwegian party members in terms of social characteristics and compare these to the composition of the party voters. Member surveys from 2000 and 2009 in Denmark and 1991, 2000, 2009 in Norway are compared to national voter surveys from 2001 and 2007/11 in Denmark and 1989/93, 2001 and 2009 in Norway. We shall look at both voters and members overall and on member/voters in the different parties. On the basis of cleavage theory we would expect that the basic cleavage background of members is purified as total membership declines and on the basis of participation theory we would expect the members to become more deviant in terms of basic descriptive characteristics. The two bodies of theory will in part generate contradictory hypotheses. We will also investigate the claim that because the members leaving the party are the least active, nothing really significant happens with parties as channels of representation.