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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

Candidate Recruitment: Does Digitalisation Decrease Representation?

Political Parties
Karina Kosiara-Pedersen
University of Copenhagen
Karina Kosiara-Pedersen
University of Copenhagen

Candidate recruitment lies at the heart of party politics; it is parties’ defining characteristic. However, this is currently challenged. In classic, mass parties, local branches were the loci of party members’ political participation, intra-party democracy, and the mobilization and training of potential candidates. Diminishing membership figures, the blurring of the distinction between members and other party supporters, and the digitalization of party (member) activism diminish and devalue traditional branch involvement in regard to both participation, representation and recruitment of potential candidates. In addition, newer parties have far fewer party members, they have not established local branches to the extent of older parties, and their links to civil and interest organizations, who also provides training grounds and resources for potential candidates, are weaker. The paper, first, shows how the displacement of party branches and development of new online arenas for party politics challenge parties’ candidate selection. Secondly, it explores the similarities and differences across Danish parties in how they are affected by and address these challenges. Finally, it discusses the potential implications for parties’ and candidates’ representativeness.
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