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Intra-party Cohesion and the Impact of Socialisation: A Study of Year of Entry Cohorts in the Liberal Party of Australia 1983–2013

Parliaments
Political Parties
Mixed Methods
Marija Taflaga
Australian National University
Marija Taflaga
Australian National University
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Abstract

Intra-party cohesion and factionalism are important phenomena shaping the behaviour of political parties. Currently we know little of the individualised and micro-level impacts of socialisation on the process of party cohesion. This study seeks to identify socialisation processes that contribute to party cohesion and to assess their impact. Through a single case study of the Liberal Party of Australia (LPA), this study seeks to examine these micro-level phenomena at the party in public office level. The Liberal party of Australia is an unusual case in that it grants its parliamentary party (ie. the party in public office) extraordinary authority to determine the policy direction and electoral strategy of the party. Coupled with its weak conflict resolution structures and leader–follower culture, the personnel make-up of the parliamentary party assumes greater importance for both internal party management and shaping the party’s overall direction. But is this actually observable? For this reason, this study uses a mixed-method design. Longitudinal data of LPA cohorts, by year of entry into parliament between 1983 and 2013 will be analysed alongside qualitative accounts of socialisation, including archive materials, elite interviews and newspaper accounts. Through the combination of these methods, the Paper aims to provide a more nuanced understanding of the social and psychological impacts on processes of party cohesion, particularly intra-party factionalism at the micro-level. This study will go some way to contribute to theory building about how socialisation impacts cohesion in weakly organised political parties.