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Organizing Political PartiesRepresentation, Participation, and Power$
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Susan E. Scarrow, Paul D. Webb, and Thomas Poguntke

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198758631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198758631.001.0001

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The Paradox of Party Funding

The Paradox of Party Funding

The Limited Impact of State Subsidies on Party Membership

Chapter:
(p.84) 4 The Paradox of Party Funding
Source:
Organizing Political Parties
Author(s):

Ingrid van Biezen

Petr Kopecký

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198758631.003.0004

This chapter addresses the role of public funding in party organizational transformation. Focusing mainly on European democracies, and using the new systematic data obtained from the Political Party Database, this chapter makes two contributions to the party politics literature. First, a range of existing findings about the importance of state subsidies for party life are re-examined, probing in particular the extent to which party incomes depend on public funding, as opposed to private donations and membership fees. Second, the association between parties’ dependence on state subsidies and party organization is explored, probing in particular the relationship between public monies and the size of parties’ memberships. Unlike the first exploration, which largely confirms most existing conclusions about the patterns of party financing, the findings from the second exploration appear to be more challenging: contrary to usual expectations, state funding of political parties does not necessarily undermine party membership.

Keywords:   public funding, private donations, membership fees, party membership, Political Party Database

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