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Greek Social Issues 7-2013: “Citizen participation, 2013”

Monday, 08 Jul 2013

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In democratic societies, the participation of citizens in associations and organizations is considered to be a basic right. Through participation, citizens form alliances in support of common interests, actively express their views about political and social issues of concern to them and influence decision-making.

Overall social participation in Greece is quite high: Nearly 1 in 2 citizens (47%) is a member of and participates in at least one association (professional, cultural, sports, community, agricultural, etc.) or organization (e.g. political party, religious affiliated, non-governmental). Among those participating, 24% are members of just one association or organization, 13% participate in two associations or organizations, and 10% in three or more (Figure 1).

Professional/labor organizations (20%) have the highest levels of participation(1), whilst political participation in parties stands at 7%, which by international standards should be considered a high percentage(2).

Men traditionally have higher participation rates than women (56%, against 39%). Moreover, high participation rates are recorded among unmarried cohabiting partners (53%), tertiary education graduates (62%), public sector employees (70%), residents of semi-urban areas (52%) and those ideologically positioned on the Center-Right (62%) (Figure 2).

Table 1 presents detailed demographic characteristics relating to citizen participation, separately for each association or organization.

Participation in organizations & associations

Professional associations

One in 5 citizens (20%) is a member of a professional association, labor union or employee association. Participation rates are high among men (27%), persons aged 35-54 (25%), tertiary education graduates (37%), public sector employees (53%) and those ideologically positioned on the Left (26%) and Center-Left (26%) (Table 1).

Cultural associations

Almost 1 in 5 citizens (18%) is a member of a cultural association (music, dance, art, drama, etc.). High participation rates are seen among unmarried cohabiting partners (22%), tertiary education graduates (23%), the self-employed or employers (29%), residents of rural areas (26%) and those ideologically positioned on the Center-Right (29%) (Table 1).

Community associations

One in 10 citizens (10%) is a member of a community association or neighborhood group. The participation rate is higher among private sector employees (13%), residents of rural areas (13%) and those ideologically positioned on the Center-Right (15%) (Table 1).

Parents’ and guardians’ associations

Nearly 1 in 10 citizens (8%) belongs to an association of parents and guardians (also, 9% of citizens were in the past members of such an association). Participation rates are higher among the 35-54 age group (16%) and married couples (11%). Equally high rates are recorded among tertiary education graduates (12%), the economically active population, i.e. the employed (15%) and residents of semi-urban areas (13%) (Table 1).

Parties – Political organizations

7% of citizens are members of a party, party youth or political organization. Participation rates are higher among men (10%, against 4% for women), public sector employees (11%, against 6% for their private sector counterparts), residents of semi-urban areas (11%) and those ideologically positioned on the Left (13%) and the Right (13%) (Table 1).

Sports associations

6% of citizens are members of a sports association, club or group. Higher rates of participation are evident among men (9%), persons aged 18-34 (13%), unmarried cohabiting partners (12%), private sector employees (11%) and those ideologically positioned on the Center-Right (10%) (Table 1).

Agricultural associations

6% of citizens are members of an agricultural association. High participation rates are recorded among men (8%, against 3% for women), primary education graduates (10%), employers or the self-employed (16%) and residents of rural areas (12%) (Table 1).

Non-governmental organizations

4% of citizens are members of a non-governmental organization (e.g. for the protection of the environment, of human rights, etc.). The participation rate is higher among women (5%, against 3% for men) and young people aged 18-34 (8%). With regard to other demographic characteristics there are no significant differences (Table 1).

Supporters’ clubs

2% of citizens are members of a supporters’ club or association. Participation rates are higher among men (3%, against 1% for women), the self-employed or employers (5%) and those on the Center-Right (5%) (Table 1).

Student associations

2% of citizens are members of a student association or study group. The participation rate is high among the 18-34 age group (8%) and unmarried cohabiting couples, evidently students (8%) (Table 1).

Religious-affiliated organizations

2% of citizens are members of a religious or church organization. The participation rate is higher among widows/widowers and divorcees/divorcés (5%). With regard to other demographic characteristics there are no significant differences (Table 1).

Scout/girl guide associations

1% of citizens are members of a scout or girl guide association. The highest participation rates are among unmarried cohabiting partners (3%) and those ideologically positioned on the Right (3%) (Table 1).

(1) For more information on participation rates of European citizens in professional/labor organizations, see: Visser J. (2013), ‘Wage Bargaining Institutions – from crisis to crisis’, European Economy – Economic Papers 488, Directorate General Economic and Monetary Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission and http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/economic_paper/2013/pdf/ecp488_en.pdf 

(2) According to Van Biezen et al. (2012), the average rate of participation of European citizens in political parties is 4.7%. For more information regarding participation rates in 27 European Union member states, see: Ingrid van Biezen, Peter Mair and Thomas Poguntke (2012), ‘Going, going… gone? The Decline of Party Membership in Contemporary Europe’, European Journal of Political Research, 51(1): 24-56 and http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2013/05/06/decline-in-party-membership-europe-ingrid-van-biezen/ 

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