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Russell J. Dalton and Steven Weldon, "Partisanship and Party System Institutionalization," Party Politics, 13 (March 2007), 179-196.

Second paragraph:
Our contribution to this discussion of parties and political development focuses on public attachments to parties as a prime measure of party system development. In established democracies, long-term psychological predispositions- party identifications - are a cognitive mechanism for orienting oneself to politics (Campbell et al., 1960). Partisanship is a heuristic that helps individuals to organize the complexities of politics, integrate information into a political belief system and evaluate political phenomena. Partisanship also stimulates political participation and voting choice. A vast literature demonstrates the importance of party attachments as a central element of democratic politics (Budge et al., 1976; Dalton and Wattenberg,2000; Holmberg, 1994; Miller, 1991). Thus, a recent review of the party identification literature states: 'Party identification is the linchpin of our modern understanding of electoral democracy, and it is likely to retain that crucial theoretical position' (Weisberg and Greene, 2003: 115).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. The percentage close to any party
Figure 1. The growth of partisanship with age
Table 2. Predicting cohort partisanship
Table 3. Predicting partisanship across old and new democracies
Figure 2. Total partisan experience of age groups in established and new democracies

Second Paragraph of Conclusion:
For the established democracies, there is evidence that partisan learning is weakening. Part of the evidence is the aggregate erosion of partisanship over the later third of the twentieth century (Dalton, 2000). In addition, the impact of parental socialization and electoral experience is weaker in established democracies (compared to new democracies) and apparently weaker than these same processes a generation ago.

last updated February 2007