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Photo of Jonathan Polk. Photo.

Jonathan Polk


Photo of Jonathan Polk. Photo.

Structuring Intra-Party Politics : A Mixed-Method Study of Ideological and Hierarchical Factions in Parties


  • Ann-Kristin Kölln
  • Jonathan Polk

Summary, in English

Scholars acknowledge the existence of intra-party divisions and the potentially negative electoral effects of disunity. Some assume that intra-party divides are between professional politicians and grassroots members, others highlight the importance of ideological blocs. Yet, precisely mapping factional structures, especially ideological factions, is difficult because of the “black box of intra-party politics.” Based on theories of party change and spatial competition, we argue for the existence of two distinct ideological factional dimensions that may differ from hierarchical factions. We test our expectations by triangulating evidence from three unique datasets from Sweden: a survey of party members, a media content analysis, and interviews with politicians. Our mixed-methods approach allows identifying the number, structure, content, sizes, and ideological positions of factions. The results show substantial variation in all aspects and that hierarchical and ideological factions rarely coincide. These findings have important theoretical, conceptual, and methodological implications for comparative politics.


  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year





Comparative Political Studies

Document type

Journal article


SAGE Publications


  • Political Science


  • political parties
  • qualitative methods
  • quantitative methods




  • ISSN: 1552-3829