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Title: Organizational choices and organizational adaptability in political parties : the case of Western European Christian democracy
Author: Dilling, Matthias
ISNI:       0000 0004 6501 1608
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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While political parties in Europe are incredibly adaptable organizations, they have varied in the extent to which they are able to adapt to social and political transformations. I explain parties' adaptability in two steps. 1) Adaptability depends on factionalism in a nonlinear way. Giving too much room and no room at all to factions undermines a party's ability to adapt. 2) Factionalism depends on early organizational characteristics. The more centralized the initially introduced leadership selection process is, the more party elites will be incentivized to form factions. This argument applies to political parties that allow for internal competition and elect their leaders according to formal rules. I use statistical tools, a medium- and small-N analysis and systematic process tracing to test my framework against competing explanations. I focus on Christian democracy to use a most-similar system design. The main empirical part of the thesis relies on a structured focused comparison of the Italian DC, Austrian ÖVP and German CDU. It is guided by a nested analysis and builds on a large amount of primary data which has not been analyzed before. I test my theory on the additional cases of the Portuguese, Dutch and Luxembourgian Christian Democrats and the French MRP. My main finding is that early organizational choices matter. The initial form the leadership selection process takes has a decisive impact on the incentives of intra-party actors to form factions. The initial level of factionalism becomes deeply entrenched in the party's organization and internal code of practice. This explains why party elites are unlikely to change it when they realize that their party's level of factionalism undermines its adaptability. Moving beyond the focus of path dependence on a single level has thus important implications for the literature on party politics, factionalism, party organizations and institutional development.
Supervisor: Capoccia, Giovanni Sponsor: University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science ; Party organization ; Factionalism ; Political parties ; Comparative-historical analysis ; Historical institutionalism ; Comparative politics