Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 7, issue 2

Scott Morgenstern, "Organized Factions and Disorganized Parties: Electoral Incentives in Uruguay," Party Politics, 7 (March 2001), 235-256.

First Paragraph:
Owing to their centrality to democracy, the inner workings of political parties and the factors that influence their organizational structure have been perennial objects of study. These studies have exposed a great diversity in how parties represent the electorate, recruit leaders, mediate between society and government, and generally organize themselves. Parties can have a defined hierarchy like those examined by Michels (1915), they can be loosely organized umbrellas for unorganized individuals or for smaller organizations (factions), they can be grouped in alliances, or their structural system can lie somewhere in between these extremes. While the goal of studying and modeling these organizational features is to understand and predict their behavior, this is a particularly complicated task where party leadership is non-hierarchical or, in Paneblanco's (1988) terms, 'dispersed'. The volumes of work on the United States have shown, however, that political decisions in countries with diffuse party leadership are understandable and even predictable (Mayhew, 1974; Florina, 1977; Cox and McCubbins, 1993; Aldrich and Rohde, 1997). Through an analysis of Uruguayan legislative voting, this paper extends this type of study to factionalized party systems, which embody a different form of dispersed leadership.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1: A continuum of factional organizations of a single party p. 238
Figure 2: A depiction of the Uruguayan electoral system for a single district p. 241
Table 1: Presidential Voting, 1994 p. 242
Figure 3a: Incentives for cooperation: out-party factions p. 245
Figure 3b: Incentives for cooperation: in-party factions p. 245
Table 2: Party Rice scores: 1985-1995 Number of unanimous, highly disciplines, and less disciplined votes p. 247
Table 3: Average factional cohesion 1990-94 (Rice scores in percents) p. 248
Appendix: Sample Ballot

Last Paragraph
Finally, the Uruguayan case suggests that factions, parties, and coalitions respond to the electoral calendar. Even highly unified groups face an important challenge when members must choose between their own and their group's electoral success. This has important implications for policy cycles and interbranch stalemates, as executives cannot count on unquestioned support in the latter part of their terms. It seems that the prohibition on reelection of the president was an important factor in explaining the parties' fall in unity at the end of the terms. Where executives can win re-election, therefore, presidents may have more success in maintaining their support coalitions.