Explaining legislative cohesion: does party organization matter? Testing the influence of resources and intra-party democracy.

Stream: Panel 12 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics:  Political Parties and Interests Groups
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm


Party cohesion is a crucial aspect of parliamentary systems, and it varies across time, parties and countries. Among the factors affecting this degree of cohesion, scholars have set forth the influence of macro-level institutional factors (electoral system, type of regime, party system); as well as individual-level factors (age, seniority, resources). Party-level factors have also been considered, but they have often been limited to the characteristics and functioning of the parliamentary party group –group size, use of carrots and sticks by the Whip or leader, division of labour, etc. The influence of intra-party organizational rules has been neglected. However, the ‘party in public office’ does not operate as an isolated entity, but as one of the faces of a larger party organization. This paper assumes that parliamentary parties and their members are affected by intra-party organizational rules and structures that are exogenous to the legislative arena. This paper specifically tests the impact of two types of organizational arrangements on legislative cohesion: resources (type of resources, amount and distribution within the organization) and intra-party democratic functioning (degree of openness of the party, distribution of rights and obligations to party members, distribution of power and competencies between the party organs). Cohesion is measured at the level of individual MPs’ attitudes, by using data collected by the PartiRep Comparative MP Survey. Data on intra-party organizational arrangements are taken from the Political Party Database (PPDB). The final database includes 800 parliamentarians in 45 parties, elected in 13 European national assemblies.


Caroline Close (Presenter), Université Libre de Bruxelles
Caroline Close is a FNRS Postdoctoral Researcher at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), in the Centre for the Study of Politics (CEVIPOL). Her main research interests are party cohesion, party organisation, party ideology, democratic innovations and legislative studies. She is involved in the international MAPP network (Members and Activists of Political Parties). She has recently published an article in Party Politics, entitled 'Parliamentary party loyalty and party family: the missing link?'. From September to December 2016, she will be a Visiting Fellow at the University of Sydney, under the supervision of Anika Gauja.