In many Western democracies, there has been considerable recent debate over the effectiveness of participation in parties in producing political and social change. Many argue that political parties are elite-driven, hierarchical organizations in which grassroots members have little chance to influence decision making. One manifestation of this is young activists turning away from political parties towards alternative methods of public participation such as advocacy groups and social movements (Cross and Young, 2008). But there is no doubt that parties occupy a central place in the democratic life of Western democracies, particularly as a linkage between citizens and the state (Katz, 2001). The extent to which parties engage large numbers of local partisans in key decisions is an important measure of how well they perform this linkage role.

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Cross, W, & Crysler, J. (John). (2009). Grassroots participation and party leadership selection: Examining the British and Canadian cases. In Activating the Citizen: Dilemmas of Participation in Europe and Canada (pp. 173–193). doi:10.1057/9780230240902_9