Party membership and state subsidies : a comparative study
Sammanfattning: This thesis tests the hypothesis that increasing state subsidies to political parties cause a declined party membership. The theory that predicted this development was constructed by Epstein in 1967 and presented in his book Political Parties in Western Democracies. The theoretical propositions have been debated by political scientists since then, but no thorough test has been conducted. In order to test the hypothesis state subsidies data and party membership data was collected for the national parties from eight states. The data was then analysed by use of the panel data models. Panel data models make use of the regression analysis technique. Examples of specialized such models are analysis through the fundamental parameter of change, first differencing and pooled analysis. The results provided by the models proved to not give a straight answer. Instead, the results pointed in different directions. The most likely interpretation of the results is that increasing state subsidies to political parties does not cause a decline in party membership. To validate such a result would require that most of the results pointed in the same direction. Thus, the hypothesis of the investigation should be considered falsified. Instead the focus of future studies should probably be directed at the supply side of party membership. When party membership decline is explained by the supply side this means that the decline is explained by people stop having motive to become party members. However, it is important to remember that other interpretations of the results are possible as well.
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