Tag Party Referenda

New publication: More than opinion expression – Secondary effects of intraparty referendums on party members

In 2015, Alexander Wuttke, Harald Schoen, and I had the chance to test the effects of a party referendum party members. Of course back then, we had no idea that this question would be so central to public debate as it has become in the context of the upcoming SPD party member referendum. The results have now published in the article More than opinion expression: Secondary effects of intraparty referendums on party members in Party Politics.

In collaboration with the Berlin state-branch of Germany’s CDU, we surveyed party members before and after an important membership referendum on same-sex marriage. Our study shows that the referendum increased members’sense of party-specific efficacy. In addition, the referendum provided party members with information on elite positions and stimulated leadership evaluation based on issue congruency. In combination, involvement in intraparty decision-making promotes beliefs and behaviors among party members that are relevant to uphold a vivid and empowering party life.

Distribution of party-specific political efficacy before and after the party referendum.

Abstract: As political parties expand opportunities for intraparty participation, understanding the effects of participatory events on party actors becomes ever more important. In this study, we investigate the consequences of an intraparty referendum in a state branch of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union on beliefs and attitudes of party members. We use longitudinal survey data bracketing a nonbinding issue referendum on the party’s stance on same-sex marriage. Our analysis shows that the referendum had secondary effects that went beyond the referendum’s primary goal of delivering an informal opinion poll to the party leadership. The experience of having a say in an important policy decision fostered members’ sense of party-specific efficacy. Furthermore, the referendum provided party members with information on elite positions and stimulated leadership evaluation based on issue congruency. Altogether, involvement in intraparty decision-making promotes beliefs and behaviors among the rank and file that are relevant to uphold a vivid and empowering party life.

Influence of respondent’s position toward same-sex marriage on evaluation of politician.

Alexander Wuttke, Andreas Jungherr, and Harald Schoen. 2017. More than opinion expression: Secondary effects of intraparty referendums on party members. Party Politics (Online First). doi:10.1177/1354068817745729 [Replication Data]