Parties and party systems - Party politics - Party organization: where does power lie?

3 important questions on Parties and party systems - Party politics - Party organization: where does power lie?

What is the iron law of oligarchy?

Suggests that there is inevitable tendency for political organizations to be oligarchic.
- Elite members have greater expertise and better organizational skills.
- Leaders form cohesive groups because they recognize that this improves their chances of remaining into power.
- Rank-and-file members of an organization tend to be apathetic and are, therefore, generally disposed to accept subordination and venerate leaders.

What is important to determine the degree of authority of party leaders?

The degree to which political and ideological rivalry is reflected in conflict between organized and coherent groups is crucial to determine the degree of authority of party leaders.

Sometimes factions can break away from parties. Factionalism is often linked to the weight that parties place on political ideas and ideological direction.
Pragmatic right-wing parties usually merely have to balance or conciliate rival tendencies, more ideological parties of the left often have to deal with open disagreement and insitutionalized rivalry.
Together with their inclination to endorse internal democracy, this has generally made socialist parties more difficult to lead than liberal or conservative parties.

To which extent do parties have a secure hold on power?

Factionalism is a luxury that only long-time parties of government can afford. This is why monopolistic parties were able to keep factionalism at bay only by exercising ruthless discipline enforced through the strictures of democratic centralism. It also explains the deeply factional nature of 'dominant' parties.

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