Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Revitalising intra-party democracy through digital democratic innovations : the case of Danish political party Alternative
Authors: Sørensen, Nikolai Gad Wøldike
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: In light of increasing concern about the democratic recession spreading across established representative democracies this PhD explores how digital democratic innovations are used in emerging political parties, to involve members and supporters directly in intra-party policy formation and decision-making. This is explored through a case study of Danish political party Alternativet, which constitutes a recent example of an emerging political party that claims to promote and practice new and inclusive ways of doing politics, experimenting with digital technologies for this purpose. In this respect the case of Alternativet illustrates a larger trend of what has been labelled connective parties (Bennett et al., 2017) or movement parties (Porta et al., 2017) by other authors. As with many of these parties, Alternativet experienced electoral success relatively quickly and has been represented in parliament since 2015, and in several local councils since 2017. Thus, Alternativet, like similar emerging parties, is an attempt to combine democratic innovations with party politics and traditional political institutions in liberal representative democracies. This is interesting considering how democratic innovations are often conceptualised in contrast to classic representative political institutions. Both democratic innovations and Internet technologies have promised, but struggled to deliver, an increase and deepening of citizen participation in democratic decision making. While they have demonstrated that they can engage citizens in political questions, it has been a particular challenge to turn engagement into impact on final political decisions. These decisions are usually taken in decision-making fora dominated by political parties, such as governments, parliaments and local councils. So connective parties, such as Alternativet, posses a potential ability to provide consequentiality to citizen participation by combining democratic innovations with party politics. However, so far insufficient attention has been given to the kind of (re-invigorated) democracy these parties promote, and what kind of participation the digital platforms they use facilitate. This thesis address exactly those questions. The study employs a mixed methods approach, combining semi-structured interviews and participant observation with a party member survey. Interviews with key stakeholders in the party and participant observations during a two months visit at the party’s national secretariat are used to explore how and why the party uses digital tools to engage party members and supporters in policy formation and decision-making. This includes the motivation to engage members actively in policy formation in the first place. Based on this, the thesis identifies four dimensions of intra-party democracy promoted by the party elite: An aggregative crowd sourcing dimension, a deliberative dimension, a developmental dimension, and a more traditional delegation dimension. Each of the (many) digital platforms used in the party have affordances that speak to each of these dimensions. A survey distributed among party members and supporters is then used to explore the support for each of these four dimensions of intra-party democracy. This data indicates that support for intra-party democracy among the party supporters can reasonably be considered along the same four dimensions. These findings are significant for our understanding of the role both democratic innovations and political parties can play in revitalising democracy.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Sørensen N 2021.pdf15.01 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
dspacelicence.pdf43.82 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.