Losing touch? The political representativeness of Swedish parties, 1985-1994

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Political parties are often said to be in decline. In Sweden, the major parties have lost significant amounts of members and activists in recent years. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether the decline in participatory linkage via parties has been accompanied by a representative decline. Using data from the Swedish Election Studies and Parliamentary Studies, average self-placement on the left-right schema is compared between Members of Parliament, party activists, party members and voters. There is no evidence of a decline in the political representativeness of the parliamentarians. There is, however, some evidence that members and activists have become radicalized compared to the voters. This is particularly true of the Social Democrats, and also to some extent in the Moderate Party. Thus, while there is no general decline in the representative linkage provided by the Swedish parties, there is some justification to speak of a representational decline for the Swedish parties as membership organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-326
Number of pages20
JournalScandinavian Political Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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