The Decline of Party Mobilization

Martin P. Wattenberg

in Parties Without Partisans

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780199253098
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599026 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

The Decline of Party Mobilization

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Presents evidence that political parties are no longer performing their function of electoral mobilization as effectively as in the past. For instance, in 18 out of the 20 countries examined, recent turnout has been lower than those of the early 1950s. Party systems that are notoriously weak have seen the most pronounced drops in electoral participation, while the presence of strong parties appears to have dampened the decline of turnout. While mass attitudes may shift gradually over time, it takes a major shock to impact a habitual behaviour like participation in elections. Recent shake‐ups in the party systems of the OECD democracies may have provided the necessary jolt to send turnout plummeting.

Keywords: elections; mass attitudes; mobilization; OECD; participation; party identification; party performance; party systems; turnout

Chapter.  6078 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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