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Just for the record, I took a look at Germany too (SPD):

SPD – Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands... With more than 600,000 members it is the largest party in Germany.

It is quite possible that smaller countries has larger percentage involved in parties. But the reason I got quite surprised is that the "death of the parties" in Sweden is quite a big subject. Using the numbers provided by wikipedia (my previous comment), in 1962 18% of the population was members of a political party. From there:
1962 18%
1970 17%
1979 19%
1991 7%
2000 4%
2006 3,3%

The big loss during between 79 and 91 was in mainly due to the right bloc governments action in untieing the links between the mayor unions and the socialdemocratic party. Until 1991, if you became member of a union belonging to LO, you also became a member of the socialdemocratic party. But since then all the big parties has lost a lot of members, giving some problems to find candidates for local elections and such. At current rate the political parties will be empty in 2020...

If this is a general trend in western Europe (or a larger area) it is worth exploring.

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by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 16th, 2006 at 04:05:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed the Mitgliederschwund is a big issue in Germany, too (just compare your dated numbers from the English Wikipedia and mine from 1 October), and the low number of party members is a theme all across the former East Bloc countries.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 16th, 2006 at 04:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The consequences of this might be interesting. In Sweden I think two trends has become apparent as party membership has dwindled:

  1. New parties. There is a lot of local parties (The "place name of community here"-party) and the parties that had a reasonable chance to enter parliament in 2006 was more then ever. 12, I think (7 already in parliament, Sverigedeomkraterna, Feministiskt initiativ, Piratpartiet, Junilistan och Sjukvårdspartiet).

  2. More open parties. This trend is weaker but some parties are making serious attempts at reaching out to their voters. The greens used adds to get candidates for local elections, Moderaterna (the major right bloc party) made limited use of open primaries to get some new and popular candidates.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 16th, 2006 at 04:52:51 PM EST
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