Drawing upon both the “party democratization” and “decline in party member- ship” literature, this paper explores how party members perceive the introduction of primary elections as procedures for selecting candidates and/or party leaders. Using Italy as an illustration, the analysis of survey data on party members from three major parties (Partito Democratico, Lega Nord, Movimento 5 Stelle) reveals three main findings. First, members approve and positively assess the adoption of new procedures of intra-party democracy. Second, membership opinions on intra- party democracy are clearly determined by the organizational structures of the party. Granting formal powers over not only to party members, but also supporters and voters, may hide a weakening of the role of the party on the ground and that it even- tually limits the organizational function of party grassroots to a “cheerleading” role. Third, new members differ significantly from long-standing members in their atti- tudes and behaviour.
Intra-party democracy; Membership surveys; Party membership; Political parties’ organization; Primary elections
Seddone, A., Sandri, G. Primary elections and party grassroots: participation, innovation and resistance. Eur Polit Sci (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-020-00268-9