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Intra-Party Democratization and Citizens’ Satisfaction with Democracy

Fri, August 31, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Marriott, Salon H


We integrate the debate on the potential consequences of intra-party democracy by looking at whether democratic party organizational settings are positively or negatively associated with citizen’s views about democracy. Some scholars contended that democratized organizational settings of parties should intensify intra-party competition, unveil intra-party disagreements and lead to greater distrust in parties and dissatisfaction with democracy (Rahat 2007; Kenig, 2009; Kernell, 2013). Other argued that party democratization might even entail a number of negative consequences for party stability, as party elites would try to manipulate intra-party democracy for their own ends (Mair, 1994). As a consequence, the alleged positive effects of party democratization on democratic attitudes of citizens are yet to be proven empirically. In order to examine how intra-party institutions affect citizens’ perceptions towards democracy, while controlling for contextual variables, we combine institutional level data with public opinion data at individual level, but we take into account also crucial explanatory factors at political party level. We rely to a unique dataset harmonizing the Eurobarometers, the ParlGov data (2004-2014, for all European Countries), the Political Party Database data and several institutional and contextual variables (turnout per election, number of effective electoral parties, etc). The Eurobarometer contains variables on citizens’ attitudes, such as the satisfaction with democracy variable and the individual left/right self-positioning, along with control variables (such as age, education and gender) whilst the ParlGov data provides the left-right positioning of government per country and per year. The Political Party Database data, completed by new data collected by the authors, provides the information on the degree of inclusiveness of decision-making over programmes, personnel selection (candidates and leaders) and organizational structure. The overall index of Intra-party democracy (IPD) per party is then used to calculate the average IPD index for each party system per each electoral year and it is then used to explain the variations in levels of satisfaction of democracy in each selected case. The cross-national comparative dataset allows for longitudinal analyses as it contains information on 26 countries from 45 different parliamentary elections in Europe between 2004 and 2016.