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Factionalism in Political Parties: An Analytical Framework for Comparative Studies

  • German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and University of Hamburg


Factionalism can affect the stability and institutionalization of parties and party systems and it can impact on the efficiency and legitimacy of political parties and political systems as a whole. Nevertheless, factionalism has only received scant attention in the comparative literature on political parties. As this paper shows, there is no dearth of conceptual approaches and hypotheses which can readily be used to advance the systematic analysis of factionalism. We survey the relevant literature and offer a comprehensive analytical framework to stimulate comparatively oriented and nuanced studies of the causes, characteristics and consequences of intra-party groups.
German Overseas Institute (DÜI)
Research Program: Legitimacy and Eciency of Political Systems
Factionalism in Political Parties:
An Analytical Framework for Comparative Studies
Patrick llner and Ma�hias Basedau
12 December 2005
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Factionalism in Political Parties:
An Analytical Framework for Comparative Studies
Factionalism can affect the stability and institutionalization of parties and party systems
and it can impact on the efficiency and legitimacy of political parties and political systems
as a whole. Nevertheless, factionalism has only received scant attention in the comparative
literature on political parties. As this paper shows, there is no dearth of conceptual ap-
proaches and hypotheses which can readily be used to advance the systematic analysis of
factionalism. We survey the relevant literature and offer a comprehensive analytical
framework to stimulate comparatively oriented and nuanced studies of the causes, charac-
teristics and consequences of intra-party groups.
Key words: political parties, factionalism, party organization, electoral systems, party
Dr. habil. Patrick Köllner
is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Asian Affairs and head of research program 1
(“Legitimacy and Efficiency of Political Systems”) at the German Overseas Institute in
Hamburg, Germany.
Contact: Website:
Dr. Matthias Basedau
is Senior Researcher Fellow at the Institute of African Affairs and head of research pro-
gram 2 (“Dynamics of Violence and Security Cooperation”) of the German Overseas Insti-
tute in Hamburg, Germany.
Contact: Website:
Faktionalismus in politischen Parteien:
Ein analytischer Rahmen für vergleichende Studien
Faktionalismus kann die Stabilität und Institutionalisierung von Parteien und Parteisys-
temen beeinträchtigen und er kann sich auch auf deren Effizienz und Legitimität auswir-
ken. Dennoch hat der Faktionalismus in der vergleichenden Forschung zu politischen Par-
teien nur begrenzte Aufmerksamkeit erfahren. Wie dieses Papier zeigt, gibt es indes kei-
nen Mangel an konzeptuellen Ansätzen und Hypothesen, die für die Entwicklung einer
systematischen Analyse innerparteilicher Gruppierungen genutzt werden können. Auf
Basis einer Gesamtbetrachtung der bisherigen Forschung entwickeln wir in diesem Paper
einen umfassenden analytischen Rahmen, der komparative orientierte und differenzierte
Studien der Ursachen, Charakteristika und Auswirkungen des Faktionalismus in politi-
schen Parteien ermöglicht.
Article Outline
1. Introduction
2. Factions: Viewpoints, Structures and Functions
3. Structural Characteristics of Different Types of Factions
4. Functions of Intra-Party Factions
5. Consequences of Factionalism: Intra-Party Groups as Independent Variable
6. Explanations of Factionalism: Intra-Party Groups as Dependent Variable
7. Concluding Comments
1. Introduction
Political parties are of central importance for the functioning of democratic systems (Lipset
2000). It is therefore not surprising that their structures and processes, as well as the factors
which determine or influence them, have been analyzed time and again. The resulting
stream of research has shown a great variety of possible organizational forms that political
parties can take – and thus also a variety of ways in which parties perform society and state-
oriented tasks. In organizational terms, parties can exhibit a hierarchical and bureaucratic
form, they can exist as loose umbrella organizations for individual candidates or they can
fall in between these extremes (Morgenstern 2001: 235). There is no universally valid organ-
izational form of political parties, nor one that is forced upon them by sheer necessity. There
is also no ideal or best organizational form since today’s advantages of a given form can
amount to disadvantages tomorrow (Panebianco 1988: 17; Wiesendahl 1998: 64; Sferza 2002:
168, 189). Like all organizations, parties exhibit alongside their formal organizational struc-
ture informal relational systems, operating procedures, and norms which are institutional-
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 6
ized to different degrees (Köllner 2006: chapter 2). At least in democracies and hybrid re-
gimes in the non-Western world it cannot be assumed that formal structures and rules ‘form
the framework, binding for all concerned, in which intra-party processes take place’
(Poguntke 2000: 84).
A central insight of the literature on party organization is that parties are not homogenous
organizations which are sure of their goals and which follow some sort of unitary will.
Rather, parties consist of coalitions of political actors who pursue their individual interests
and goals. The coalition these actors enter are based on the exchange of political resources
(Panebianco 1998: chapter 1). Just as politics in general can be seen as a process based on the
conflictive and consensus-oriented relations among interdependent individuals, intra-party
politics is characterized by conflict and consensus between interdependent groups within
parties (Maor 1997: 147). The activities of intra-party groups, so-called factions, can not only
influence changes in the identity, organization, and internal decision-making processes of
parties (cf. Harmel and Tan 2003). Factions can also affect the stability of parties and party
systems. They can influence how parties perform their societal and state-oriented tasks. Fac-
tions can thus impinge upon the legitimacy and efficiency of democratic political systems
(see also below).
Against this background it is surprising that the study of the dynamics and underlying fac-
tors of intra-party factions has not played much of a role in the literature on party politics. In
spite of a new wave of research about the organization of political parties within the past
fifteen years or so, the topic of intra-party groups has received only scant attention in com-
parative work. Factionalism gets barely mentioned in relevant text books and survey articles
(see e.g. Duverger 1959; Ware 1996; Katz 2002). Here the discussion centers on formal party
structures, the distribution of power within parties, intra-party politics, and the resources
which parties possess but factions are only noted in passing, if at all. Even Sartori (1976),
who deals in his well-known book on parties and party systems in a more in-depth manner
with the conceptualization and analytical penetration of intra-party groups, denies them in
contrast to political parties any functionality. However, as we will argue in this article, intra-
party groups can have important functions and consequences for the parties and political
systems concerned. In extreme cases, factions can even be more relevant actors than the par-
ties which host them.
Not all academic works have regarded intra-party groups as ephemeral, short-lived and
thus unimportant and ignorable. Individual works on democratic representation through
political parties (Graham 1993: chapter 8) and party-systems in long-existing democracies
such as Great Britain (Maor 1997: chapter 5; Webb 2000: chapter 6), for example, have dealt
with factions in the context of discussions of party cohesion or competition within parties.
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 7
Over the last ten years or so, there have also been an increasing number of rational-choice
analyzes of the impact of electoral systems and other formal arrangements on the emergence
and development of factionalism.1 Before we will present in the following sections our own
analytical framework, we first explain what exactly we mean by factionalism and factions in
political parties.
2. Factions: Viewpoints, Structures and Functions
We will approach the phenomenon of factionalism first from an etymological and semantic
point of view. A fairly neutral explanation is offered by Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary
(1996: 359) which supplies two meanings for the word ‘faction’:
1. A group or combination acting together within and usually against the larger body
(as in a state, political party, or church).
2. Dissension within a group (Latin factio ‘act of making, faction’, from facere ‘to make,
In general terms there are two basic views with regard to factions and political parties. From
the perspective of modernization theory factions are proto-parties or forms of party organi-
zation which are precursors to more developed ‘modern’ parties. Factions are perceived
here as being characteristic of the early stages of the so-called modernization process in
which individuals and groups have broken with traditional patterns of political behavior
but the degree of political participation and institutionalization is still low (Chambers 1963;
Huntington 1968: 412-415).2
The vast majority of studies portray factions as groups within parties. There are, however,
nearly as many views of such intra-party groups as there are studies. Repeatedly there have
been attempts to approach the topic in a more systematic manner. In particular, typologies
of factions have been developed which focus on different kinds of factional structures and
functions. Yet there is little agreement about the characteristics which determine factions in
a constitutive manner. Studies have also arrived at quite diverging findings about the causes
of factionalism and its consequences for political parties, party systems, and political sys-
tems (see below).
Before we will deal ourselves with the possible structures, consequences, and causes of fac-
tionalism in political parties, we must define factions from a political-science perspective. In
1 See e.g. Cox and Rosenbluth 1996, Cox et al. 2000, Morgenstern 2001.
2 In the 18th century the terms faction and party were used synonymously. On the differentiation of
these two terms thereafter see Müller-Rommel (1982: 10-11).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 8
1931 Harold Lasswell provided one of the first such definitions in the Encyclopedia of the So-
cial Sciences:
[T]he term faction is commonly used to designate any constituent group of a larger
unit which works for the advancement of particular persons or policies. The faction
arises in the struggle for power and represents a division on details of application and
not on principles.3
In his well-known study of politics in the southern states of the US, Key used a much more
restricted definition of factions. For him a faction denoted a group of people, both voters and
politicians, which forms at a certain point of time in support of a given candidate running
for office (Key [1949] 1984: 16). This limited instrumental focus on factions was however not
taken up in the subsequent literature.4 In a first explorative article on factionalism in political
parties, Zariski used a much wider definition. For Zariski (1960: 33) a faction was synony-
mous with ‘any intra-party combination, clique, or grouping whose members share a sense
of common identity and common purpose and are organized to act collectively – as a dis-
tinct bloc within the party – to achieve their goals’.
The various definitions of factions betray different approaches to the topic which render
generalizing conceptualizations and systematic comparative analyses more difficult. Against
this background, one further definition is of particular interest a) because it is broad enough
to encompass various types of intra-party groups and b) because it does not assume the ne-
cessity of certain cultural dispositions as some other definitions do. It comes from Beller and
Belloni (1978: 419) who define factions as ‘any relatively organized group that exists within
the context of some other group and which (as a political faction) competes with rivals for
power advantages within the larger group of which it is a part’ (emphasis in the original).
From this perspective, as Maor (1997: 149) has put it succinctly, factionalism in political par-
ties can be understood as a form of conflict organization which reflects the tendency of intra-
party actors to act collectively to reach common goals.
In drawing together the definitions of Zariski, Beller and Belloni, we use the term ‘faction’ to
designate every intra-party grouping which
- exists for a certain period of time,
- possesses a minimum of organization,
- exhibits a common group-consciousness,
3 Cited in Müller-Rommel (1982: 14).
4 Key’s attempt to come to terms with the different characteristics of factions in the Deep South’s
Democratic Party provided an important impulse for subsequent research. Key can thus be re-
garded as the spiritus rector of political-science research on factionalism (Graham 1993: 141-146;
Grynaviski 2004).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 9
- actively pursues political goals, be these policy-, personal-, or group-specific ones,
within a party, and which thus
- can be discerned as a bloc within the party.5
3. Structural Characteristics of Different Types of Factions
The above-mentioned definitions of factions do not yet tell us much about the structures and
functions of intra-party groupings. Well-known attempts to differentiate between different
types of intra-party groups have been presented by Rose (1964) and Hine (1982). Both see
factions as an expression of deeply-rooted or institutionalized differentiation within parties.
In comparison to tendencies, single-issue groups, or wings within parties, factions, to their
minds, are characterized by a higher degree of organization, a shared identity, an a binding
agreement on common goals. Furthermore, Hine argues that factions are disciplined groups
with a solid organization who are conscious of their own existence and possess some stable
personnel. According to Rose (1964: 37), tendencies are for one defined by a stable set of atti-
tudes rather than a stable group of politicians. Thus a tendency does not equal any group of
individuals within a party. Instead, for Rose, a tendency presents a changing coalition of
people who share certain political attitudes and who band together from time to time under
the label of a tendency.
Implicit to this conceptualization of factions is a sense of longevity. Thus, even a group
which puts forward clearly visible political positions or leaders should not be called a fac-
tion if is does not exist for a certain period of time. Intra-party groups that exist only for a
limited span of time are unlikely to develop an ‘organizational backbone’ (Pridham 1995:
10). What in this perspective differentiates factions from other intra-party groups is their
greater organizational strength and their durability, in other words their high degree of in-
While Rose and Hine thus differentiate factions from other intra-party groups, Beller and
Belloni (1978) beg to differ. The two political scientists understand ‘factions’ as an overarch-
ing category of differently structured intra-party groups. They differentiate these groups on
the basis of their particular organizational traits. Beller and Belloni distinguish between a)
cliques and tendencies, b) personal, client-group factions, and c) institutionalized, organiza-
tional factions.
5 The informal character of intra-party groupings is as a rule, but not always a trait of factions.
Groups mentioned in party statues (e.g. youth associations) can act as factions if, but only if, they
exhibit the other traits mentioned above (in particular the pursuance of distinct political aims).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 10
What characterizes these three ideal-typical modal types is that factional cliques and tendencies
have very little structure.6 They are either almost totally unorganized or exhibit only a very
ephemeral organizational set up for pursuing a single issue or for fighting an electoral cam-
paign. Recruitment to such amorphous groups does usually not take place in a coordinated
manner and leadership of the group exists, if at all, on an ad-hoc basis. Usually there are no
hierarchical command structures. Individuals might play a prominent role in such groups
but this role is usually based more on charisma than on clientelistic links. As a rule, such
groups do not have offices or headquarters of their own, structured meetings, formalized
procedures or symbols. There is also no real group identity or formal group membership to
speak of. More often than not, such groups exist only for a short time, especially if the com-
mon interest of the group members is confined to one issue.
Personalized factions are based on clientelism which also serves as the central mechanism for
mobilization. Such groups are characterized by what are usually asymmetrical exchanges of
power resources. As a rule, hierarchies and chains of command in such groups are vertical.
Horizontal links between group members might even be discouraged, although there can be
subgroups. When such personalized groups have a name, it often refers to the group’s
leader who is vital to the identity of the group. In temporal terms, the existence of such
groups is mostly limited by the political life of the respective leader.
In contrast to the groups just mentioned, institutionalized factions exhibit a developed organ-
izational structure and a higher degree of bureaucratization. Recruitment regularly takes
place on a non-personal and egalitarian basis. While the political ambitions of the groups’
leader/s are important for the cohesion of these groups, their survival and continued exis-
tence is – as a rule – not dependent on individual leaders. This often gets also reflected in the
groups’ names or symbols. Also, membership in such groups is formalized and members
share a common identity.7
It has to be emphasized that the factional types just sketched are models which in reality will
not always be found in their pure form. There are numerous groupings in political parties
which exhibit structural characteristics pertaining to different ideal types. Moreover,
changes leading to a growing or diminishing complexity of intra-party groups can occur in
the course of time. Personalized factions can thus undergo a process of institutionalization,
but they can also evolve into loosely coupled cliques. In other words, the typology presented
6 The following is based on Beller and Belloni (1978: 422-430).
7 It seems logical to deduce from the different organizational make-up of factions their respective
autonomy from the party hosting them (see Panebianco 1988: 60, 168-169). Building on this
thought, Morgenstern (2001) has developed a continuum whose outer ends consist of, on the one
end, highly organized and independent factions and, on the other end, centralized parties without
any factions.
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 11
above must be understood as a heuristic instrument to a) reduce the complexity of the object
at hand and b) to assist in generating hypotheses.
Moreover it has to be pointed out that intra-party groups can exist at different levels. Thus,
factions do not have to be confined to the central level of a party but can also exist at the
local or regional level of the party’s organization or within the parliamentary caucus of a
party. In a related vein, also the diffusion of factionalism can vary. It can be restricted to elite
groups within parties (‘elite factionalism’) or it can affect a party as a whole (‘open factional-
ism’). A third pattern consists of ‘factional alliances’, i.e. factional competition which extends
from a lower, maybe the local level of a party to increasingly higher echelons of the party’s
hierarchy (or vice versa).8
Table 1: Descriptive characteristics and functions of factions within parties
General descriptive
characteristics* Sub-characteristics Possible findings
Number of factions
Relative size/strength of
Vertical depth
Bipolar or multipolar factionalism
(A-)symmetrical factionalism
Factionalism only at the central level
Degree of organization
Tendencies (low)
Personalized factions (medium)
Institutionalized factions (high)
Factional Polarization
Conflict intensity
Ideological distance
Dynamics of inter-
factional competition
Low to high
Close to vast
Centripetal vs. centrifugal (Do con-
flicts increase or decrease? Are there
any splits?)
Main function of
Prevailing raison d’être ,
from ‘factions of interest
to factions of principles’
Distributive: allocation of posts and
resources among members and fol-
Representative: representation of ex-
ternal interests/groups (e.g. unions, re-
Articulative: representation and inter-
mediation of ideologies, programs,
and political issues (abstract, concrete:
single issue)
* The characteristics refer to individual parties, not party systems or individual factions.
8 For details see Beller and Belloni (1978: 437-439), Hine (1982: 39-41), and Müller-Rommel (1982: 46-47).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 12
We suggest to catalogue the essential characteristics of intra-party factions in a similar man-
ner as party systems (see table 1), i.e. in terms of fragmentation, institutionalization, and
polarization. We thus term the number of factions, their relative size, and the vertical fac-
tional penetration of a party ‘factional fragmentation’. The respective degree of institution-
alization of factions is based not only their durability and cohesion but more importantly on
their organizational structure, ranging from tendencies to highly organized factions (see
above). The degree of polarization between faction in a party concerns both the ideological
distance between the relevant factions and the intensity of ideological conflict. Connected to
this are also the dynamics of factional conflict. A moderate conflict culture leads to centripe-
tal competition, possibly in the institutionalized form of consociational parties (Bogaards
2003), while centrifugal factionalism can lead in extreme cases to a party’s paralysis or disin-
Beyond the degree of fragmentation, institutionalization, and polarization we have to ad-
dress another important characteristic of factions, viz. the central reason why factions exist:
their raison d’être, their main functions.
4. Functions of Intra-Party Factions
With regard to the function of intra-party factions, many analysts have focused on the aspect
of power struggles and the distribution of ‘booty’ (spoils faction, power faction). Factions can
help to advance the intra-party and governmental careers of their members and leaders.
While the attainment of positions and the allocation of posts can be termed the ‘classical
functions’ of factions, there are also other (ideal-typical) functions. For example Sartori, tak-
ing his cue from David Hume, differentiates between interest- and principle-based functions
(‘factions from interest’ and ‘factions from principle’, cf. Satori 1976: 8-9, 76).
Thus not only material gain and the allocation of posts can be at the center of factional ac-
tivities. Factions can also serve to articulate and mediate particular or sectional interests (e.g.
those of a religious, ethnic, social or vocational group) and/or can be aimed at influencing
the party’s strategy or promoting certain values. The representation of specific interests, on
the one hand, and the articulation of politico-ideological goals or normative issues, on the
other hand, can thus be discerned as two further ideal-typical functions of factions. Beyond
these basic functions, factions can also help to satisfy emotional and social needs of their
members by means of reciprocal support and respect, intensive contacts, and by providing a
sense of belonging. Finally, factions can be used for the exchange of information among
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 13
members and, more generally, can serve management and co-ordination purposes (espe-
cially within loosely coupled parties).
In summing up it can be noted that the functions of factions are closely related to the pre-
vailing type of intra-party conflicts, i.e. whether they are about power and careers, policy
issues and ideologies, or different sectional interests. Also, intra-party conflicts can follow
cyclical patterns, e.g. when it comes to generational change within parties or ‘eternal’ ques-
tions such as the role of the state in the economy (cf. Hine 1982; Graham 1993: 154-157).
5. Consequences of Factionalism: Intra-Party Groups as Independent Variable
Generally, factionalism tend to be regarded as a phenomenon belonging to the ‘pathologies
of politics’ (Friedrich 1972).9 This certainly reflects the views of party leaders and officials for
whom the existence of factions poses an open challenge to party management.10 Indeed, fac-
tions can undermine the cohesion and the effectiveness of political parties. Clear-cut dissent
within a party and ensuing repression can take parties to the verge of disintegration and
Factionalism can also lead to intra-party decisions on personnel that are not based on merit
and ability of the people involved but on their factional affiliation. Faction-based dissent can
damage a party’s ability to recruit new members, to fight effective campaigns, and to enter
coalitions. Faction-based intra-party conflict can also lead to blurry and contradictory posi-
tions of a party and thus render voters’ decisions more difficult. Factionalism can impede or
block intra-party discussions and issue-oriented debates can be drawn into the vortex of
inter-factional power struggles. In some cases, factionalism can even be (made) responsible
for corruption within a political party or even within the political system at large. In sum,
intra-party factions can damage or weaken the moral authority and integrity of individual
parties or the whole party system. Factionalism can destabilize the party system and it can
lead to growing cynicism on the part of voters.
9 Accordingly the term faction is often used not only in analytical but also in pejorative terms (Sar-
tori 1976: 72-73; Beller and Belloni 1978: 445-446).
10 There have been different ways to deal with intra-party factions which reflect, inter alia, their par-
ticular functions and their autonomy plus the political context in which they are embedded. Reac-
tions have ranged from violent suppression as in the case of Stalin’s Soviet Communist Party, si-
lent acceptance as in the case of the former Italian Communist Party to formal acknowledgment in
party statutes as in the cases of the Brazilian Labor Party (Samuels 2004: 13) or the Polish Democ-
ratic Union (Waller and Gillespie 1995: 1).
11 See for example the case of the Spanish UCD (Gunther and Hopkin 2002).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 14
On the other hand (or in other cases), factions can serve as a transmission belt for bargaining
processes, conflict resolution and consensus building within parties. The formation and fur-
ther development of factions can also have participation-widening and mobilizing effects for
party members and supporters – especially, but not only, when it comes to internal elec-
tions. The existence of different power groups within a party can contribute to linking dif-
ferent social groups to the party and thus to strengthening the inclusionary character of the
party. Moreover, it is even thinkable that factions stabilize a party’s leadership. This can be
the case when a) factions serve as ‘early warning systems’ on latent conflicts and when b)
the institutionalization of factions makes intra-party opposition more calculable.
In general terms, factions can also promote the unity of a party by means of articulating and
channeling different (group) interests within the party. It is important in this respect, of
course, that the basic aims of the party are not put into question. Especially within dominant
parties, factionalism can help to engender necessary competition between ideas and per-
sons.12 The existence of differently oriented factions inside a party can also work in a moder-
ating manner if radical and extremist positions are already countered within a party. Fac-
tions in political parties that act in an integrative manner can help to stabilize the party sys-
tem per se.
Against the background of such possible negative and positive consequences or effects, fac-
tionalism in political parties can be an ambivalent phenomenon. Positive and negative con-
sequence might be interrelated and can at least occur at the same time. To give just one ex-
ample: factionalism can lead to a broader representation of social groups in a party (and
thus possibly to better election results), but can also diminish the ability of the very same
party to govern effectively.13 Moreover, factionalism in a party can develop from an advan-
tage into a disadvantage (and vice versa). As Sferza (2002: 171) has argued in this context:
“[f]actionalism [...] is a double-edged format: while it can be extremely conducive to re-
newal, it can also be dysfunctional and a source of sclerosis”.
With regard to the relationship between factions and the formal structures of a political
party, it is not possible to assume a priori a complementary or a clear-cut conflictive relation-
ship. In general terms, we can speak of a complementary relationship when informal institu-
tions such as factions support the formal structures or are at least in accordance with their
spirit. For example, factional structures and processes can be used to circumvent the rigidi-
ties of the party’s formal structures. The use of informal structures can in such cases help to
12 See on this Zariski (1978: 27-28), Müller-Rommel (1982: 22-24) and the more recent literature on
factions in dominant parties (e.g. Bettcher 2005 on the Italian DC and the Japanese LDP, Bogaards
2003 on the South African ANC).
13 On the consequences of factionalism in parties see e.g. Raschke (1977: 226-235), Beller and Belloni
(1978: 439-442), Müller-Rommel (1982: 37-39), Sferza (2002: passim), and Reiter (2004: 252).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 15
reduce transaction costs. Intra-party factions can also support the formal party structure by
making the access of various groups to the party easier, thus securing or increasing a party’s
representational ability and responsiveness. Factions can even promote the legitimacy of the
formal party framework if they help to integrate ‘traditional’, shared values into the formal
framework, thus helping to secure support for formal, somewhat abstract party organiza-
Table 2: Possible consequences of factionalism
Possible consequences Relevant characteristics Hypotheses (examples)
Functionality of the party
Organizational structure
Social and ideological basis
Function within the politi-
cal/party system: governing
or opposition party
Moderate institutionalized faction-
alism eases intra-party conflicts
and increases cohesion
Centrifugal or polarized factional-
ism paralyses individual parties
with regard to core functions (le-
gitimacy and efficiency)
Functionality of the party
Centrifugal factionalism increases
both fragmentation and polariza-
tion, but weakens institutionaliza-
tion of the party system and thus
core functions of parties (legiti-
macy and efficiency weakened)
Functionality of the
overall political system
or regime
Balance of power in parlia-
General institutional
framework: presidential and
federal elements
Position of the party af-
fected by factionalism
within the parliamentary
and governmental system
Centrifugal factionalism promotes
unstable majorities
Centrifugal factionalism in opposi-
tion parties increases power of the
Polarized factionalism lowers re-
spect for parties
The possible consequences of factionalism are not restricted to individual parties (cf. table 2).
As mentioned above, factionalism can induce the fragmentation of parties and whole party
systems, thus diminishing the ability of parties to act and govern. In the final analysis, the
efficiency and legitimacy of political system can get severely damaged and even the surviv-
ability of young democracies is at stake. Generally speaking, a conflictive relationship exists
between formal and informal structures of a political setting when informal structures ‘colo-
nize’ and undermine the formal framework. This is the case when informal structures con-
tradict the spirit of formal elements or when the formal framework is used only as a ‘host’
for parasitic activities and processes of an informal nature. A conflictive relationship does,
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 16
however, not exist when the informal structures are clearly subordinated to their formal
Whether factionalism acts as a positive or negative factor in party politics depends on the
particular functions of the relevant factions, the context they are embedded in, plus the deci-
sions and strategic options of the party’s leadership (cf. Pridham 1995: 23). While the litera-
ture has tended to highlight negative consequences of factionalism, questions regarding the
specific effects of factionalism and its relationship with formal elements in the parties con-
cerned have to be answered in an unbiased manner on a case-by-case basis.
6. Explanations of Factionalism: Intra-Party Groups as Dependent Variable
Studies on factionalism in political parties have discussed a number of different factors
which are said to promote or aid the establishment and development of factions. Numerous
variables both inside and outside the parties and the party system have been pointed to.
However, there is so far no consensus on which factors should be regarded as decisive. Al-
ready Key concluded that in most cases he had analyzed, a combination of factors influ-
enced the development and traits of the factions concerned. We will divide these factors into
three categories:
a) general socio-economic and political dynamics and structures,
b) formal state institutions such as electoral systems and the structure of the state,
c) the characteristics of the party system and parties, including the historical conditions
of party formation.
General Social and Political Dynamics and Structures
The socio-cultural environment in which organizations exist affects them through various
channels and thus it also affects the specifics of factionalism within parties. In societies
which are marked by strong clientelistic links or by pronounced cleavages, we are more
likely to witness factionalist tendencies within parties. On the other hand, there seems to be
hardly a link between the socio-economic background of politicians and their membership
in factions.15 It seems however possible that a low level of development and a related
heightened importance of access to resources worsens distributive fights within parties and
14 On the relationship between formal and informal institutions see more generally Helmke and
Levitsky (2004), Köllner (2005: chapter 2).
15 Cf. Zariski (1960: 46-50; 1978: 29-31), Sartori (1976: 104), Beller and Belloni (1978: 430-432), and
Hine (1982: 46-47).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 17
thus fosters factionalist tendencies. Even though this hypothesis has so far not really been
tested, it seems plausible in countries such as India or Malawi.16 The link between the social
environment and factionalism seems to be of particular relevance where a pronounced per-
sonalized political culture exists.
On an altogether different level, we would expect specific conflictive political issues to affect
the formation of factions. Here we differentiate between power-related and ideological con-
flicts: Struggles about succession at the helm of party mark a high time of personalized fac-
tion formation. Parties which are based on certain fundamental convictions, ideologies or
worldviews (Weltanschauungsparteien) often react to new political ideas by factional position-
ing of groups within the relevant parties. For example, the advent of neo-liberalism fostered
divisions within the two big British parties (Detterbeck 2006).
Formal Institutions
With regard to the formal institutional framework, the state’s structure, the governmental
system, stipulations in the constitution and laws governing parties, and the (national) elec-
toral system have often been discussed as factors determining, or at least influencing, fac-
tionalism in political parties.
Formal characteristics of the state structure and the governmental system create diverging incen-
tive structures for the establishment of factions: Where federal or decentralized state struc-
tures are connected with a significant amount of resource distribution, as in India or Ger-
many, they can promote the formation and persistence of regionally rooted factions. Direct
elections of state presidents endowed with strong executive competences carry a particular
personalistic element into political conflicts. Such elections can heighten intra-party differ-
ences when supporters rally around auspicious candidates in the nomination phase.
Legal regulations governing parties and the parliament exert multitudinous effects. Regulations
which prohibit parliamentarians from party switching (‘floor crossing’, ‘cambio de camisas’)
while keeping their seat, are often intended to prevent party splits. Under such circum-
stances, intra-party dissent can find an outlet in faction formation. State subsidies for parties,
on the other hand, have a contra-factional effect if the party leadership controls these funds
(see also below). Finally, restrictions on the establishment of parties can affect the proclivity
for faction formation. Because parties based on ethnicity, region or religion based are pro-
hibited in many sub-Saharan African countries, relevant groups have to organize in different
kind of parties. This is possibly one reason why ethnic congress parties and not mono-ethnic
parties are the rule in sub-Saharan Africa (Erdmann 2002). In a related vein, the prohibition
16 See the relevant country studies in Köllner et al. (2006).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 18
of extremist parties may lead to the establishment of relevant party wings within large
catch-all parties.
The national electoral system determines how seats and thus posts get allocated. It is therefore
also relevant to intra-party conflicts. It has been argued that proportional electoral systems
provide an institutional framework amenable to faction formation and development. In the
case of closed candidate lists, intra-party groups can become active ahead of elections in
order to secure auspicious slots for their candidates. One the other hand, factions can also
arise where majoritarian electoral systems are in place. It can be argued that majoritarian
systems or high vote thresholds foster the concentration of political forces and thus also fac-
tionalism. Also the single non-transferable vote system is said to provide incentives for fac-
tionalism.17 A special case is presented by the Uruguayan electoral system. The formation
and persistence of factions got an extra boost here because intra-party groups can present
their own lists (so-called sublemas) under the country’s electoral system (cf. Morgenstern
Party System and Parties
The general characteristics of a party system can also affect the formation of factions. Both a
high degree of polarization between parties and a low number of competing parties in a
given party system have been said to increase the available room for intra-party conflict
about ideological issues. The second claim has however been questioned a number of times.
It also runs counter to cases of two-party systems in which the severe competition for votes
in fact forces moderation upon parties. Moreover, in multi-party systems the issue of coali-
tions and election pacts can also trigger intra-party conflicts and related factional activities.
Does at least the hypothesis about the link between a high degree of polarization in a party
system and ideology-based factionalism yield more explanatory power? Unfortunately, in a
number of case studies the hypothesis did not jell with empirical reality, signaling that the
explanatory power of this variable is (at best) not universal.18
It has also been argued that the strength of parties influences factionalism. As a number of
case studies have shown, factionalism flourishes extremely well in dominant parties. Such
parties are a) in charge of executive power for a long time (= potential for issue-based con-
flicts among factions), b) control the distribution of power resources (potential for patron-
17 On the consequences of various electoral systems on factionalism see Key (1984: chapter 19),
Zariski (1960: 37-41, 1978: 24-26), Sartori (1976: 93, 98-100), Raschke (1977: 147-150, 178-180), Beller
and Belloni (1978: 432-434, 437), Hine (1982: 42-46), Müller-Rommel (1982: 24-25), and Grofman
18 For overviews see Zariski (1960: 41-43), Sartori (1976: 102), Raschke (1977: 173-178), and Müller-
Rommel (1982: 20-22).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 19
age-based factionalism), and c) usually represent a broad range of socio-economic groups
(potential for factional representation of specific interests). It has been argued in this context
that factions in dominant parties are more unlikely to break away from these parties than
others (as factions would lose their access to power resources). Much-cited historical exam-
ples in this context include the former Italian DC, the Japanese LDP, and the Indian Con-
gress Party. It also seems that dominant founding parties in new democracies are often af-
fected by a heavy dose of factionalism.19
On a different level, it can be suggested that highly institutionalized party systems tend to
host political parties that have equally institutionalized internal structures. As signaled by
the case of the Japanese LDP with its rather durable and complex factions, however, such
institutionalized party structures may not always be of a formal kind. Finally, it can be sub-
mitted that the need for cohesion is higher in the case of governing parties which have to
contain intra-party conflict in order to be able to govern effectively.
Not only in the case of governing parties, strong centripetal tendencies can better be avoided
when the channels of party finance are controlled by the party leadership. The centralization of
party finance tends to work against the formation or reduces at least their ability to survive.
Conversely, the decentralization of party finance renders the establishment and further de-
velopment of factions easier. This should hold in particular true of personalized and spoils-
based factions.20
Also, the organizational structure of parties is said to have numerous potential effects. It has
been postulated that simply-structured elite parties exhibit a higher degree of factionalism
than, for example, mass parties with a vast network of local branches. It has also been ar-
gued that centralized parties are more likely to have factions at the central party level
(Zariski 1960: 43-45; Beller and Belloni 1978: 436-437; Müller-Rommel 1982: 16-20). Empirical
studies have however repeatedly put the universal character of such causalities into ques-
tion (see e.g. Zariski 1978: 23-24). Undisturbed by this, Carty (2004: 15-16) has recently ad-
vanced a new organization-based explanation of factionalism. He argues that factions in
political parties can be related to the loose coupling of these parties, in other words their
stratarchy. According to Carty, factions function in such organizational contexts as instru-
ments to coordinate relatively autonomous intra-party units. Caution is however required
with regard to claims about the connections between factional and overall party structures.
First, there is always a danger of tautological or functionalist explanations. And secondly it
19 On this point see Zariski (1978: 27-28), Müller-Rommel (1982: 22-24), and Pridham (1995: 10-11).
20 For a relevant discussion of the Italian and Japanese cases see Sartori (1976: 93-95). The connec-
tions between the channels of party finance and the internal organization of political parties have
not yet been well analysed. For an interesting exception see Mulé (1998).
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 20
is often unclear whether factionalism results from a particular way of organizing a party or
whether the causality runs the other way. In sum it can be suggested that organizational
structures of parties offer the weakest starting point for general explanations.
The amount of support a party can claim is not the only relevant thing when it comes to the
social linkages of parties. Attention has to be paid to the composition and characteristics of
support groups, i.e. their social and ideological basis, their durability and heterogeneity. For
example where ethnicity plays a role in society, multi-ethnic congress parties should be
more prone to factionalism than mono-ethnic parties. Based more on empirical observation
than theory is the hypothesis that left-wing and especially extreme leftist tend – maybe as a
reflection of some kind of ‘vanity of the least difference’ – towards centrifugal factionalism.
Similar to national electoral systems, (s)election procedures within parties also influence fac-
tionalism in political parties. In particular primaries are said to foster intra-party factions. In
studies on factionalism in the Republican and Democratic parties of the US, the results of
primaries have been used to measure factional strengths (cf. Carty 2004). Also, the option of
minority votes increases the power of intra-party groups, as for example in the case of the
German Greens where decisions affecting the course of the party have to be supported by
two thirds of delegates at party congresses. Authoritarian leadership sometimes also leaves
renegades no other choice than to band together. On the other hand, in some cases factional-
ism has been suppressed by means of strict control by the party leadership.
So far we have concentrated on presenting possible factors affecting the emergence and de-
velopment of factionalism in a systematic if somewhat static manner. However, we also
have to be mindful of the historical conditions, critical junctures, and dynamics of party formation
and development. In this respect, the literature on party organization has highlighted the con-
ditions of a party’s genesis (inter alia the form of territorial diffusion, the existence of charis-
matic leaders and external sponsors – e.g. labor unions – and existing collective identities in
the case of party mergers) as important factors which can influence the formation and char-
acter of factions (see especially Panebianco 1988: chapter 4). Finally, research has shown that
within a specific historical context the above mentioned explanatory factors for factionalism
can act in conjunction with other factors. Thus contingencies have to be taken into account.
We must also note that the vast majority of research in factionalism has focused on estab-
lished democracies. It should not be overlooked, however, that in new democracies the in-
stability of the party system and the political system as a whole can promote factionalism.
Since parties are not yet settled, factional affiliations and alliances can be of greater impor-
tance to politicians than party loyalties (Magone 1995: 92, 99). Such loyalties can evolve on
the basis of shared experiences and identities. But this development should and cannot be
taken for granted, especially if parties continue to be controlled by individual leaders.
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 21
Table 3: Possible causes of factionalism in political parties
Possible causes and
context variables Relevant characteristics Hypotheses (examples)
a) General social and political structures and dynamics
Socio-cultural struc-
tures and dynamics
Cleavage structure
Prevalence of clientelism
Socio-economic level and dy-
Heavily segmented, clientelistic
and personalized cultures tend to
Low level of development in-
creases the importance of power
struggles and thus promotes fac-
General political struc-
tures and dynamics
Political culture (elites and
Specific controversial political
issues and crucial decisions
(power, ideology)
Successions and leadership
(s)elections promote the formation
of factions
New politically relevant ideas (e.g.
neo-liberalism) promote the for-
mation of factions
b) Formal institutions
State structure and
governmental system
Federal vs. decentralized vs.
Presidential vs. semi-
presidential vs. parliamentary
Federal structures combined with
significant resource distribution
aids factionalism
Presidential system promotes dis-
tributive factionalism
Regulations in consti-
tutions and party laws
‘Floor crossing’
Public party funding
Register restrictions for parties
Prohibition of floor crossing stimu-
lates factionalism
Party subsidies controlled by the
party leadership weakens faction-
Prohibition of ethnic or extremist
parties aids factionalism
National electoral sys-
tem (parliament)
Principle of representation
(proportional vs. majoritarian)
List forms, voting system
District magnitude
Thresholds of representation
Closed lists promote factionalism
Preferential voting in small dis-
tricts (with few MPs) and SNTV
foster factionalism
c) Party system and party
Party system
Position of party in party sys-
tem (opposition vs. govern-
Dominant parties tend to factional-
ism (possible functional equivalent
of intra-party competition)
structures of party
Size/strength of party
Leadership structure
Channels of party finance
(both informal and formal)
Elite parties tend more strongly to
factionalism than mass or catch-all
Centralized party finance con-
strains factions
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 22
Possible causes and
context variables Relevant characteristics Hypotheses (examples)
Social linkages of
Social and ideological basis
(type, durability, and hetero-
geneity of support groups)
Factions are particularly likely
where heterogeneous social and
ideological supporters exist
Left-wing and parties of the ex-
treme left tend heavily to factional-
Intra-party decision-
making and (s)election
Degree of effective intra-party
Intra-party electoral system
Authoritarian leadership style
stimulates centrifugal factionalism
Primaries foster factionalism
Specific historical con-
ditions of party genesis
Conditions of party genesis
(e.g. party merger)
Young democracies
Instability of party system in tran-
sitional periods aids factionalism
Sometimes consequences of factionalism can also turn into causes. For example re-
garding the Uruguayan case, Morgenstern (2001: 239) has argued that in 1910 the
already heavily factionalized parties introduced a national electoral system in order
to maintain a two-party system. According to Morgenstern, this particular electoral
system led to the further institutionalization and disciplining of the factions. The
ambiguity of factional phenomena with regard to their status as dependent or inde-
pendent variables has important implications for the research design. The politics of
intra-party groups are a dynamic and complex affair. Scholars have to be aware of
the fact that the particular period under investigation can determine whether phe-
nomena will be causes or consequences. In many cases it will be useful to differenti-
ate between several periods of factionalism (e.g. Detterbeck 2006).
7. Concluding Comments
Factionalism can play a substantial role in terms of determining or at least influencing how
political parties perform their society and state-oriented tasks which are vital for the func-
tioning of democratic systems. Factionalism can affect the stability and institutionalization of
parties and party systems. In the final analysis, factionalism can impact on the efficiency and
legitimacy of political parties and political systems as a whole. This is not to say that faction-
alism is of crucial importance to how all parties and political systems operate. But as a sub-
stantial number of case studies indicate, factionalism can – for better or worse – make a dif-
ference. We thus deplore the fact that the study of factionalism has so far only received scant
attention in the comparative literature on political parties. As this article shows, there is no
dearth of conceptual approaches and hypotheses which can readily be used to advance the
Köllner/Basedau: Factionalism in Political Parties 23
systematic analysis of factionalism in political parties. The comparative study of intra-party
groups require systematic descriptions of their characteristics as well as careful and com-
prehensive conceptualization of their possible consequences and causes. We hope that the
analytic framework developed in this article will help to stimulate a more comparatively
oriented and nuanced study of factionalism.
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Criteria, State and Causes of Persistent Defects
  
  
  
  
Formal and Informal Politics
from an Institutional Perspective: An Analytical Approach for Comparative Area Studies
  
Moving towards a Regional Security Community? The Armed Forces in the
Perception of Parliamentary Elites in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay y Paraguay
  
  
  
  
Global and Area Studies
... Factionalism is an everpresent fact of life within parties (Harmel & Janda, 1994;Bob-Milliar, 2012). This notwithstanding, competitive or more intense factionalism (Boucek, 2009) undermines and threatens the stability, cohesion and effectiveness of a party and, most significantly, faction-based dissent damages a party's ability to recruit new members to fight effective campaigns, and generally impedes party management (Köllner & Basedau, 2005). ...
... Since factional dissent often causes divisions and weakens a party's cohesion (Köllner & Basedau 2005), after eight years in opposition, the NPP realized "they had to come together or perish" as one executive asserted (S. Nyamekye, personal communication, March 15, 2019; "NPP Unites Ahead of Election", 2014). ...
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This article presents a case study of the NPP, exploring what lay behind the party’s effective organization ahead of Ghana’s 2016 elections and how that organization contributed to the party’s victory after two electoral setbacks in 2008 and 2012. This work affirms the electoral significance of party organization and argues that, although several factors contributed to the outcome of Ghana’s 2016 election, effective party organization had a significant impact on the landslide victory of the NPP. This research synthesizes the literature on power dynamics and party change to build a theory of party strengthening and its electoral significance in multiparty electoral democracies. In doing so, the article emphasizes the following features: first, learning from past defeats leads to renewed party building and reform efforts; second, factional consolidation and a conducive power balance enhance party cohesion and organizational efficacy; and third, these dynamics of party strengthening improve party performance in elections. The article demonstrates the validity of this theory by exploring the process of organizational strengthening within the NPP ahead of its victory in 2016.
... Müller-Rommel (1982) says factions are a "group of a larger unit which works for the advancement of particular persons or policies. A faction arises in the struggle for power and represents a division on details of application" (cited in Kollner & Basedau, 2005). An analysis of the views expressed by Tekere indicated that policy-related divisions began to emerge in ZANU and the most visible cause of the division was the forward-looking policy that Mugabe had 'chosen' towards whites and ZAPU. ...
... Several studies have been undertaken to explain nationalism in Zimbabwe, and the central argument in these studies is that ZANU was merely interested in establishing a one-party state, However, this study's critical engagement with factional politics within the ruling party succeeded in refuting this dominant narrative. Building on the works of Müller-Rommel (1982) and Kollner and Basedau, (2005) on political factions, the study was able to provide conceptual clarity on the internal politics in ZANU. Factions arise in the struggle for power, they represent a division on details of application in political parties. ...
This qualitative study which relied on document analysis, starts by acknowledging how nationalism, from its modern genesis in the ideas of the Italian political philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli in the 16th century, spread to other parts of the world because of European imperial colonialism. The study then foregrounds the irony that Africans who spearheaded anti-colonial struggles embraced the notion of nationalism as a unifying and liberating force against European colonialism. The case is made through a close examination of the divisive and often tragic modus operandi of Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), the two main contending nationalist movements that mobilized people in the then Southern Rhodesia against colonial rule, between 1977 and 1990. While nationalism was used as a positive force of mass mobilization, the study also reveals how the decades-long antagonism between ZAPU and ZANU is instructive and exemplary of the inherent instability in the concept and conceptualization of nationalism. The study brings to bear theories that have exposed the social constructedness of nationalism and how this is explained by its fierce contestednedness in the recent history by Zimbabwe’s main nationalist movements. The study concludes by observing that the reality of nationalism lies in that it is socially constructed and can therefore be mobilized for better or for worse depending on the interests of individuals or organizations. Corollary to this conclusion is that nationalism’s existence in a perpetual state of constructed transition, is both a cause and function of its continual contestation.
... The expulsions and counter-expulsions reported by the BBC News show that factionalism and violence in the MDC have now taken centre stage. Factionalism and violence are regarded as phenomena belonging to the "pathologies of politics" (Kollner & Basedau, 2005). This reflects the views of party leaders and officials (in this case Tsvangirai, Biti, Mangoma and others) for whom the existence of factions poses an open challenge to party management. ...
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This paper argues that the post-2005 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formed in 1999 as an opposition party in Zimbabwe, has inherently adopted violence as a tool to unseat the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) led government. Furthermore, the use of violence has continued among its various formations in tussles for leadership positions, and to settle a plethora of other issues. The aim of the paper is to unpack the pervasiveness of intra-party and inter-party violence within the MDC and its various formations in Zimbabwe‟s opposition politics. The paper contends that the current leader of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC�Alliance), Nelson Chamisa, usurped power from the late Morgan Tsvangirai‟s natural successor Thokozani Khupe through violence after unleashing the so�called MDC vanguard to beat up, ridicule and humiliate Khupe who they called „hure‟ (prostitute) in public spaces. Similarly, when Professor Welshman Ncube, the current MDC-Alliance second vice-president, broke away from the mainstream MDC party together with the late, then MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda in 2005 to form the MDC-N, there was party-sponsored violence against them from Tsvangirai who publicly labelled his former deputy as „duche‟ (idiot) when they failed to resolve their differences peacefully. When African Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies  Indexed by: IBSS, EBSCO, ProQuest, J-Gate and Sabinet Volume 10 Number 1, April 2021 Pp 77-99The Inherent Resort to Violence in... 78 Tendai Biti, the current MDC-Alliance first vice-president and then MDC-T secretary general, and former MDC-T deputy treasurer, Elton Mangoma, were sacked in 2014, Tsvangirai referred to Biti as an opportunist and a rebel who was egoistical by nature and working secretly to remove him from power with the assistance of the former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. Biti and Mangoma went on to form their own party called the MDC Renewal, which later split into the Renewal Democrats (RD) and the People‟s Democratic Party (PDP) after unprecedented violence between the two former allies; Mangoma was thoroughly bashed by Biti‟s supporters because of their acrimonious and irreconcilable fallout on issues to do with alliances for the general plebiscite of July 2018. Keywords: MDC, Violence, Elections, Party, Opposition, Zimbabwe
... First, there are a set of institutional explanations which we ignore either because they do not apply to countries in the region or because we lack sufficient variation to be able to draw any inferences. For example, some scholars have pointed to party electoral rules that govern internal candidate selection or rules governing public financing of election campaigning as potential factors (Köllner and Basedau, 2005). However, few parties in Southeast Asia hold elections to select candidates, with no variation in electoral system type. ...
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In this article we present an overview of the arguments contained in the articles of this special issue. We first catalogue the varieties or types of factionalism present across Southeast Asia—namely, programmatic, clientelistic, and personalist/charismatic. We then explore the question of why the degree and type of factionalism varies across countries, across time, and across parties. We first focus on differences between factionalism in governing and opposition parties, arguing that factionalism across dominant and opposition parties differs in terms of the origin, type, and effect. We find that the more competitive the party system the more likely it is that factional patterns between the parties within a given polity will converge. We then review the relative power of socio-structural and institutional explanations of factionalism, and place the greatest weight on the role of patronage, party size, and the degree of party centralization. Finally, we turn our attention to common strategies for curbing factionalism across our cases and conclude by examining the consequences of factionalism.
... A dynamic approach to the analysis of intra-party factionalism would take into account changes that would lead to growing or diminishing complexity of factions. Hence, personalised factions may undergo a process of institutionalisation in time, or institutionalized factions may degenerate into personalised factions (Köllner and Basedau, 2005). However, intra-party factions in the Philippines have not obtained the degree of institutionalisation akin to those in advanced democracies (i.e. the LDP in Japan and the defunct DC in Italy). ...
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The Philippines is a rich case study in the examination of intra-party factions and factionalism in competitive party systems of Southeast Asia. Intra-party factionalism is a recurring, yet understudied, aspect of Philippine party politics. The factional nature of Philippine party politics has endured through time – from bifactionalism of the post-war two-party system to the multi-factionalism of the post-authoritarian multi-party system. All the major political parties that have dominated politics at different historical epochs have experienced intense factional splits. Intra-party factionalism remains a consistent feature of party politics and has become more complicated over time. The number of factions has increased at every period of party system development, while the level of party institutionalization has remained generally low. This article seeks to address this puzzle by tracing the history of political factionalism in the Philippines. It maintains that factional resilience in Philippine party politics is an outcome of combined institutional and structural factors rooted in history. Adopting a historical institutional approach, it will delineate the path-dependent trajectory of intra-party factionalism at critical political junctures. Moreover, it will examine the role of intra-party factionalism in the under-institutionalization of the Philippine party system.
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Intra-party conflicts and party fragmentation is not new phenomenon to Ghanaian politics. It traces its historical antecedents to when Kwame Nkrumah led a section of the UGCC to break away to form the CPP in 1949. Subsequent ones occurred in the Third Republic of Ghana when the Danquah-Busia tradition’s Progress Party was split into the PFP and UNC ahead of the 1979 elections. Ghana’s Fourth Republic cannot entirely be left out of the picture because it has also had its share of intra-party conflicts and fragmentations. Despite its resurgence, some political parties in Ghana like the NPP and NDC have perfected the art of managing the situation as and when it erupts. However, the Nkrumahist parties have failed to recover from their recurrent fragmentation. Against this backdrop, the study examined the dynamics of the fragmentation of the Nkrumahist parties and its impact on them. The study adopted the qualitative research approach to obtain its primary data as well as relied on some existing secondary sources from books, articles, etc. The study found that leadership crises, exploitation of warring factions by major political parties, and the effects of Ghana’s political system have over the years contributed to the inability of Nkrumahist parties to recover from fragmentation like NDC and NPP. The dynamics to this fragmentation include self-induced factors like the excessive glorification of their founder and absence of effective party structures, selfishness and greed, political opportunism, party financing, and Ideological rift. Additional factors like the deliberate extermination of the tradition through coups and the destabilization ploy by major parties were found to have also contributed to the Nkrumahists’ problem. The Nkrumahists fragmentation was found to have contributed to their abysmal electoral performance, affected their ability to advance alternative governance proposals, entrenched the ‘two-horse’ race between the NDC and NPP as well as attracted businessmen who only use the tradition as means of amassing wealth or launch their political career. The study recommends among others the need for Nkrumahists to build effective party structures, strengthen their conflict resolution mechanisms, and refrain from excessive greed and political patronage.
Various studies show that voters appreciate individual legislators who dissent against their party as it increases their valence appeal. Simultaneously, political psychology research shows that right voters consider loyalty substantially more important than left voters. However, whether ideology moderates voter reactions to legislator dissent is so far unexplored, similarly to the question of whether voters also appreciate factional dissent of a group of legislators. This article investigates these two questions employing a survey experiment with Spanish citizens. We find that voters indeed appreciate factional dissent and that ideology moderates how voters react to dissent. While left voters welcome all forms of factional dissent more than party loyalty, right voters value party loyalty more than some forms of factional dissent. The results suggest that legislators face different benefits of dissent depending on the ideological composition of their electorate, with important implications for legislator behaviour and party cohesion.
Faction is an old age phenomenon world over. The democratic consolidation in South Africa post 1994 is close to three decades but did not escape factionalism. Does faction phenomenon bring about havoc, conflicts, splits, and instability corollaries or strengthen party politics in response to fulfilling the general will? In responding to this question, South African party politics and factional battles within the ruling party and other political formations are discussed as a case study to explore the merits and demerits of factions and factionalism. In doing this, a discourse analysis was undertaken to understand how faction phenomenon brings about complots or a positive change. The discourse analysed arrived to the conclusion that whilst factions are blatantly criticised for rearing havoc and instability in party politics as well as signs of split-offs and threats as demerits in South Africa, there are also inevitable trade-offs to be welcomed as merits to create opportunities to drive positive change within the broader party-political spectrum to strengthen participatory democracy and the multi-party system in South Africa.
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Literature on the study of Zimbabwean politics tends to emphasise the role played by Robert Mugabe as chief instigator of different political trajectories in Zimbabwe. In a departure from available literature, this paper surfaces other explanations rather than to centre on the Mugabe factor. Because of democratic centralism, the factional dimension of politics within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) is a case worthy of investigation to understand these political trajectories. With this in mind, the paper seeks to examine the nexus between different political trajectories in Zimbabwe and the emergence of factionalism in ZANU-PF.
Literature on the study of Zimbabwean politics tends to emphasise the role played by Robert Mugabe as chief instigator of different political trajectories in Zimbabwe. In a departure from available literature, this paper surfaces other explanations rather than to centre on the Mugabe factor. Because of democratic centralism, the factional dimension of politics within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) is a case worthy of investigation to understand these political trajectories. With this in mind, the paper seeks to examine the nexus between different political trajectories in Zimbabwe and the emergence of factionalism in ZANU-PF.C
This book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date overview and account of the changing nature of party politics in Britain today. It draws on models of comparative politics to conduct a wealth of new empirical analysis to map and explain the ways in which the party system has evolved and the parties adapted to a changing political environment. Themes covered include the nature and extent of party competition, the internal life and organizational development of parties, the varieties of party system found across the UK, and the roles played by parties within the wider political system. The book also addresses the crisis of popular legitimacy confronting the parties, as well as assessing the scope for potential reform. While parties remain central to the functioning of Britain’s democracy, public disaffection with them is as high as it has ever been; reform of the system of representation and party funding is warranted, but there are unlikely to be any panaceas.
Politische Parteien bestehen aus Individuen und Gruppen, die um Einfluss und Kontrolle konkurrieren. Häufig bilden sich innerparteiliche Machtgruppen, so genannte Faktionen. In diesem Band werden Ursachen, Charakteristika und Bedeutung von Faktionen in Parteien in Deutschland (Grüne und CDU), in Europa, Afrika, Asien und Lateinamerika untersucht. Dabei zeigt sich, wie innerparteiliche Machtgruppen Profil und Gestalt von Parteien und Regierungen beeinflussen.
This Note explores the candidate-endorsement process in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan during its period of hegemony (1955–90). Even in parties without an enduring factional structure such as the LDP, nominations are often troublesome – witness, for example, the reselection controversy in Britain's Labour party at the end of the 1970s or the perennially damaging fights in American primary elections. Moreover, it is easy to understand why nomination politics is so consistently problematic: the gist of the problem is simply that different groups within a party may differ as to who should receive the party endorsement in a given district (or, in list systems, who should get the safe spots on the list). Group A naturally wants its candidate(s) endorsed (there may be more than one in multi-member districts), but so do groups B, C and D. The resulting interaction between groups can be what a game theorist would call a co-ordination, or Battle of the Sexes, game.