Despite the comparative stability of the party system, Australian political party membership has been in decline since the mid-twentieth century. While this chapter outlines the difficulty of studying party membership in Australia due to cultures of secrecy and problems of access, it is able to bring together data from a variety of sources to outline the general picture of descriptive party representation in Australia, comparing reported characteristics of party members to party voters and the general public. It examines the implications of declining membership for parties’ representative capacities – not only in terms of mirror and descriptive representation and the composition of the membership, but also in their ability to integrate a variety of diverse perspectives and voices into key party functions, such as candidate selection and policy development. The chapter concludes by considering the broader impact of parties’ representative capacities for Australian politics and society.
|Title of host publication||Do Parties Still Represent?|
|Subtitle of host publication||An Analysis of the Representativeness of Political Parties in Western Democracies|
|Editors||Knut Heidar, Bram Wauters|
|Place of Publication||United Kingdom|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - 24 Apr 2019|