From the Streets to the Party Lists: Electoral Advantages of Social Movement Activism
Kruszewska, Dominika Roksana
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CitationKruszewska, Dominika Roksana. 2019. From the Streets to the Party Lists: Electoral Advantages of Social Movement Activism. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractSocial movements form political parties, influence policy outcomes, and contribute to the renewal of political elites by supplying political candidates. Yet, we know little about the relationship between contentious and electoral politics. What are the electoral advantages of participation in social movement activism and under what conditions are those advantages the highest?
In this dissertation, I employ a mixed-methods design to argue that movement roots can provide activists with a reputational advantage, particularly useful in times of political crisis. When voters look for alternatives to the establishment, movement leaders can successfully play into the discourse of the society versus the state and establish credentials as authentic representatives of the people. Using the cases of post-transition Poland and Spain, I show that these credentials serve as particularly valuable heuristics in contexts with high uncertainty and low information such as new democracies. However, they can increase the chances of activists getting elected also in times of other political crises. Under conditions of party system volatility and decline of trust in government institutions, parties seek to energize their bases by developing closer ties to social movements. Attendance of established politicians at demonstrations, similarly to highlighting activist origins, can serve as a form of costly signaling of responsiveness to the concerns of constituents.
However, reputational benefits decline over time. Whereas uncertainty increases the value of activist reputation, the stability of the party system limits its appeal. First, when party labels are highly informative, voters are less reliant on activism as a heuristic for valence attributes. Second, when movements operate within an established party system, they are perceived along partisan lines. When protest participation signals an ideological position, it increases support only among voters in close proximity to candidate's inferred ideal point but at the cost of losing other voters.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029760
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