Party institutionalization and intra-party preference homogeneity

  • Matthias MaderEmail author
  • Nils D. Steiner


This paper studies the relation between party institutionalization and intra-party preference homogeneity in democracies. In weakly institutionalized parties, it cannot be taken for granted that party actors have similar policy views because they lack the capability or motivation to coordinate agreement and to recruit personnel in line with this agreement. This should matter most when other safeguards against preference heterogeneity are missing. Empirically, we explore the association between institutionalization and intra-party preference homogeneity at the level of candidates to the national legislature based on survey data. In a single-country study, we first look at the case of Germany in 2013 and 2017, contrasting the young and weakly institutionalized Alternative for Germany (AfD) with the older, established parties. In a second step, we study the link between party institutionalization and preference homogeneity in a cross-country analysis of 19 established democracies. We find that parties with high value infusion—parties whose candidates are committed to the party—are generally more homogenous in their policy preferences. Moreover, value infusion is more consequential when the issues in question are not constitutive for the party and when candidates are selected in a decentralized way. Similarly, routinization of internal party behavior—the second dimension of institutionalization that we account for—seems to contribute to preference homogeneity only when parties are less policy oriented and have decentralized candidate selection procedures.


party institutionalization intra-party heterogeneity party positions elite surveys party organization 

Parteieninstitutionalisierung und innerparteiliche Präferenzhomogenität


Dieser Artikel argumentiert, dass ein höherer Grad der Institutionalisierung von Parteien zu homogeneren Präferenzen innerhalb von Parteien beitragen sollte. Um den Zusammenhang zwischen Institutionalisierungsgrad und interner Präferenzhomogenität empirisch zu untersuchen, nutzen wir Daten aus Befragungen nationaler Parlamentskandidaten in einer Fallstudie zur AfD und in einer komparativen Analyse von Parteien aus 19 Demokratien. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass „value infusion“ – das Ausmaß, in dem sich Kandidaten ihrer Partei verpflichtet fühlen – die Homogenität von Sachfrageorientierungen innerhalb von Parteien begünstigt, insbesondere, wenn unwichtige Themen betroffen sind und die Kandidaten dezentral ausgewählt werden. Die zweite berücksichtigte Dimension von Institutionalisierung, die Routinisierung von Parteiprozessen, scheint die Präferenzhomogenität (nur) in Parteien mit geringer Policy-Orientierung und dezentraler Kandidatenauswahl zu erhöhen.


Parteieninstitutionalisierung Präferenzhomogenität Parteipositionen Elitenbefragungen 



We would like to thank the editors as well as the co-participants of this special issue, especially Saskia Ruth and Michelangelo Vercesi, for helpful comments on previous versions of this manuscript. We are also grateful for the two anonymous reviewers’ thoughtful and constructive remarks. Theresa Bernemann, Ayse Gün and Lukas Isermann provided excellent research assistance.

Supplementary material

12286_2019_421_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.8 mb)
Online appendix with additional supporting information (issue items used; raw party level data), regression tables for figures 3 and 4, and regression results from robustness checks (interactions in one model; random effect models; controls for party family; only one election per country; excluding candidates who thought they could not win)


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universität MannheimMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Institut für PolitikwissenschaftJohannes Gutenberg-Universität MainzMainzGermany

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