ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Explaining party fission

Raimondas Ibenskas
Universitetet i Bergen
Raimondas Ibenskas
Universitetet i Bergen
Open Panel

Abstract

One of the most dramatic ways in which party organisation may change concerns the fracturing of the party into two or more separate political entities. The literature emphasises the propensity of parties in new democracies to splinter, which stands in contrast to the relatively stable party organisations in most of the established democracies. Such splits of political parties have been interpreted as indicating the weakness of politicians’ organisational loyalties and party institutionalisation, and impeding the stabilisation of electoral politics in these democracies. However, the analysis of party splits has been mostly limited to several insightful but hard-to-generalise case studies. The proposed study seeks to ameliorate this research gap by examining the factors of party fission in 24 EU member states since the late 1940s. It employs a new dataset covering all parties which received at least 1 percent of vote in the last legislative election, allowing thus to compare the frequency and importance of party splits in established and new democracies across different time periods. In order to explain party splits I build a theory which emphasises office motivations of sub-party groups as well as the commitment problems that these groups face during the intra-party bargaining over the resources. This theory encompasses a number of party- and system-level explanations of party schisms provided in the literature, such as party age and electoral performance as well as electoral and constitutional institutions. The observable implications of the theory will be tested using statistical analysis.