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Helene Helboe Pedersen, "How intra-party power relations affect the coalition behaviour of political parties," Party Politics, 16 (November, 2010), 737-754. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
The balance of power in a political party is usually treated as a matter of democracy. Much attention has been paid to whether the influence of the rank-and-file members and party activists is a democratic virtue or evil (for an overview, see Teorell, 1999). Likewise, many studies have discussed whether the influence of party members and activists increases or decreases over time, and why (Bille, 2001; Heidar and Saglie, 2003; Katz, 2001). However, in this article I argue that the distribution of power within political parties, whether it is vested in the party organization or is in the hands of the party's parliamentarians, is interesting, and not only from a normative perspective. Intra-party power distribution is also a matter of decision-making efficiency, especially in coalition negotiations.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. Impact of internal and external bargaining resources on coalition behaviour
Table 1. Values of the parties on the four items of power and the combined index, 'powerdistribution'
Table 2. Effects of external and internal bargaining power on accommodation behaviour of Danish parties
Figure 2. Marginal effect of 'Powerdistribution' on coalition behaviour as policy distance changes

Last Paragraph:
(First paragraph of conclusions) I have discussed and tested three different predictions about the impact of power relations within political parties on their coalition behaviour. First, the coalition theory assumes that parties are unitary actors in the sense that they not only behave, but also think, as a unit, such that power relations within parties do not impact on coalition behaviour. Second, Strøm (1990a) has claimed that parties with decentralized decision procedures are less effective in coalition negotiations, because they are constrained by their ideologically motivated activists. Finally, Maor (1998) has proposed that decentralized parties are stronger in coalition negotiations because they are able to handle intra-party conflicts within the party and not in public. These hypotheses were tested using data from 11 Danish parties.

Last updated October 2010