Previous research finds limited evidence for a positive link between intra-party democracy and citizens’ inclination to vote for democratizing parties or to become more involved in partisan activities. This article investigates the association between democratic candidate selection processes and citizens’ political engagement levels, which can be considered a crucial predisposition for actual political participation. First, we test the selection processes’ effect on the two forms of political participation that are likely to be affected by democratizing intra-party reforms: electoral and partisan participation. Second, we examine how inclusive candidate selection processes are linked to three forms of engagement: watching campaign ads, reading newspapers, and discussing politics with friends and family. The analysis is based on public opinion survey data during seven election cycles from the Israel National Election Survey and candidate selection data on Israeli parties. The results of the hierarchical models show that democratic candidate selection processes are associated with higher engagement levels, while simultaneously bearing no effect on electoral and partisan participation. This implies the existence of a structural disconnection between citizens’ political engagement and participation levels in response to intra-party democracy.
- candidate selection
- hierarchical models
- Israel National Election Survey
- political engagement