Party Membership in Twenty European Democracies, 1980-20

P Mair, Ingrid van Biezen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

445 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports a comprehensive overview of new data on the levels of individual membership of political parties in twenty contemporary European democracies. Among the patterns noted in the data is the contrast between large and small democracies, as well as that between new and older democracies. However, the most striking feature to be noted is the sheer extent and consistency of membership decline through to the end of the 1990s. Not only have levels of party membership continued to decline as a proportion of the electorate, a trend which was already apparent at the end of the 1980s, there is now also compelling evidence of a major decline in the absolute numbers of party members across all the long-established European democracies. As these data clearly reveal, parties in contemporary Europe are rapidly losing their capacity to engage citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-21
Number of pages17
JournalParty Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


  • disengagement
  • party membership decline
  • party membership


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