Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics Events & Colloquium

EPS seminar series- MATTHIAS DILLING (Swansea University): 'Parties under Pressure: The Politics of Factions and Party Adaptation'

When:We 22-05-2024 16:00 - 17:00
Where:Room 1315.0031, Harmonie building

This event is part of the Seminar Series of the theme group European Politics and Society.


Facing profound social and political pressure around the world, political parties have differed enormously in their ability to update their offer to voters. This variation in party adaptation is important. While adaptation does not equal electoral success, parties’ failure to “move with the times” has often resulted in their decline and even collapse, making room for radical and populist parties and causing widespread concern over liberal democracy’s future. Focusing on the varying fate of one of Europe’s previously predominant party families – Christian Democracy, this book shows that party factions, defined as organized internal groups with weak formal ties to the central party, can support party adaptation by providing the flexibility for old interests to decline and new interests to rise within parties. Too many factions, however, risk paralyzing decision-making by leading to notoriously unstable internal coalitions and the dependence on a class of factional brokers. The relationship between factionalism and party adaptation is thus inverted U-shaped. Contrasting this argument with alternative accounts from the party change literature and drawing on institutional theory, this book is the first systematic look at the emergence and development of different levels of factionalism and their effect on party adaptation. Based on extensive archival research in Germany, Italy, and Austria and additional shadow cases from the same sample of parties as well as France and Japan, the book provides evidence on political parties’ varying record of adaptive reforms over more than 75 years.