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Elodie Fabre, "Measuring party organization: The vertical dimension of the multi-level organization of state-wide parties in Spain and the UK," Party Politics, 17 (May, 2011), 343-363. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol17/issue3/ ]

First paragraph:
A recurring theme in the growing literature on comparative territorial politics is that of the organization of state-wide political parties and the relationships between central and regional levels of party organization. In most cases, these studies of party organization are single-country case studies, and comparisons are based entirely on descriptive accounts (for a recent exception, see Thorlakson, 2009). Such descriptions make it difficult to evaluate degrees in decentralization or regionalization and types of organization. This article presents an alternative way to present the data on multi-level party organization. Whereas there is a number of state decentralization and regionalization indices (Schakel, 2008: 144-8), there is no index for the measurement of party regionalization. It is both interesting and important to fill this gap, as many authors hypothesize a link between a country's multi-level setting and the vertical organization of its state-wide political parties (Deschouwer, 2003; Hopkin, 2003; Scharpf, 1995). A coding scheme to evaluate the allocation of power between central and regional levels of party organization focuses on the influence of regional party branches within the structure of the state-wide parties and on the autonomy of the regional party branches. Here, I apply this coding scheme to the organization of state-wide political parties in Spain and in the United Kingdom.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Organizational dimensions (indicators) and codes of multi-level party organization
Table 2. Codes for vertical organization of the British and Spanish state-wide parties
Figure 1. Scores of the regional branches on the two dimensions of multi-level party organization

Last Paragraph:
This article has shown that it is possible to code the vertical dimension of multi-level party organization and that it can facilitate comparison between parties and regions. The strategy of consistent analysis of multiple aspects and processes of party organization can be used to study multi-level party organization in countries such as Germany, Canada or Australia for instance. Building a larger database of cases and proceeding to a longitudinal study of party organizations may enable researchers to establish clearer trends in multi-level party organization as well as contribute to the study of party change and adaptation. Whereas the population of state-wide parties may be too small for classic statistical analyses, a larger selection of parties may be suitable for an analysis through qualitative comparative analysis (de Meur and Rihoux, 2002; Ragin, 1987), which may yield interesting results and highlight combinations of conditions that facilitate one type of organization or the other.

Last updated April 2011