Intra-Party Politics and European Multiparty Governments

Research question/goal: 

While the vast majority of scholarly research on multiparty governments conceptualizes political parties as unitary actors, a series of recent empirical studies highlight the pivotal influence of diverging interests within parties throughout the life cycle of democratic governments. Specifically, intra-party heterogeneity affects the formation of governments following parliamentary elections, how government parties then allocate ministerial portfolios, how coalition policies are implemented, and for how long multiparty governments stay in office. The present collaborative project contributes to existing coalition research by exploiting social network sites – most importantly Twitter and Facebook – to construct a large-scale comparative data set on intra-party heterogeneity in European parliamentary democracies over a four-year period.

Based on these unique data, it explores three sets of interrelated research questions. First, the project provides a cross-national comparative perspective on the effect of intra-party heterogeneity on government formation, portfolio allocation, and government termination. Specifically, it investigates how internal rifts influence parties’ ability to get into government, which and how many portfolios different parties and party factions secure, and whether factionalized parties precipitate premature cabinet termination. Second, the data likewise allow for investigating potential institutional and structural determinants of intra-party heterogeneity in European parliamentary democracies. Finally, the project contributes to research on the validity of measures based on social network sites by cross-validating the obtained measures of intra-party heterogeneity with alternative estimates retrieved from various other sources including parliamentary speeches, roll call votes, and survey data (among party elites and their rank and file).

Current stage: 

The first months of the project were devoted mainly to data collection. With the help of student assistants, the doctoral student compiled lists of all Twitter accounts of the Members of Parliament in the 27 countries under study and saved large amounts of data. Currently, the doctoral student is training the student staff to apply a binary coding scheme he has developed. In the next step, the scheme is employed to train an algorithm that distinguishes between political and non-political tweets. Following this, we use the political tweets to measure intra-party heterogeneity.

Fact sheet

2017 to 2022
Data Sources: 
Social media data
Geographic Space: 
Parliamentary systems in Western and Central Eastern Europe