Parties, Movements and the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum: Explaining the Post-Referendum Party Membership Surges

Lynn Bennie* (Corresponding Author), James Mitchell, Rob Johns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Some political parties have experienced a resurgence in membership. This article seeks to explain membership surges in the Scottish National Party and Scottish Greens following the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence and an unusually movement-like campaign. Using data from a 2016-17 survey of the parties’ memberships, we examine why large numbers joined these pro-independence parties following defeat in the referendum. We demonstrate that the new members had experienced a sense of belonging to a Yes movement during the campaign but were not intensely active; and reasons for joining the parties look more conventional than movement-based. We argue that the referendum created a unique platform for the parties to advertise their objectives on the constitution and other policy areas and thus attract new recruits, few of whom were seeking to maintain the participatory activities that flourished during the referendum. The minority that are active movement-oriented joiners look the least likely to be satisfied by party membership
Original languageEnglish
JournalParty Politics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Party membership
  • movements
  • referendums
  • SNP
  • Scottish Greens

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