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Definitions and measures of party institutionalization in new personal politics: The case of the 5 star movement

Definition und Messung von Parteiinstitutionalisierung im Kontext personalisierter Politik: Eine Fallstudie auf Basis der Fünf-Sterne-Bewegung

Abstract

The emergence of personalized party organizations has called for a redefinition of the concept of party institutionalization (PI). This article brings different strands of literature together and proposes a new multidimensional index of PI. PI is conceived of as the interplay of objective and internal party features with the external environment. The viability of the index is tested through its application to a prominent case of personal party, the Italian Five Star Movement (5SM). Through a detailed analysis of its history, we show that the 5SM has become more institutionalized over time; however, this has especially affected its external facet, while other specific party traits have been less involved. Findings suggest that the stabilization of internal structures to connect party echelon and rank-and-file remains a challenge.

Zusammenfassung

Durch die Entstehung personalisierter Parteiorganisationen ist eine Neudefinition des Konzepts der Parteieninstitutionalisierung (PI) nötig. Dieser Artikel bringt verschiedene Literaturstränge zusammen und schlägt einen neuen multidimensionalen Index der PI vor. PI ist als das Zusammenspiel von objektiven und internen Parteimerkmalen mit dem externen Kontext konzipiert. Die Anwendbarkeit des Index wird am Beispiel der italienischen Fünf-Sterne-Bewegung (5SB), einem prominenten Fall einer personalisierten Partei, getestet. Anhand der detaillierten Analyse der Parteigeschichte zeigen wir, dass die 5SB sich im Laufe der Zeit immer stärker institutionalisiert – was sich vor allem auf externe Ausprägungen der Parteieninstitutionalisierung bezieht, während interne Merkmale der Partei weniger involviert wurden. Die Ergebnisse des vorliegenden Beitrags zeigen, dass die Stabilisierung der internen Organisationsstrukturen zur Verbindung von Parteiführung und Parteibasis eine Herausforderung bleibt.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    According to Calise (2015, p. 130) “the personal party marks a sharp departure from the legal-rational, bureaucratic, and collective form of authority, which has been dominant in the development of political parties all through the 20th century, whereas bringing back the role of patrimonial and charismatic resources” (see also Calise 2000). Gunther and Diamond (2003, p. 187) use the notion of personalistic parties to analyze the most recent type of electoral party, which aims to provide “a vehicle for the leader to win an election and exercise power”.

  2. 2.

    We rely on the minimal Sartori’s (1976, p. 64) definition of the political party as “any political group that presents at elections, and is capable of placing through elections, candidates for public office.”.

  3. 3.

    It is debatable what façade congress means. It seems safe to say that a congress is a façade when the incumbent leader autonomously proposes him or herself or a successor for leadership and others approve by acclamation or unanimous vote. If a multi-candidate contest takes place, a solution could be instead to use the index of competitiveness of Kenig (2008), which divides Laakso-Taagepera index calculated on the electoral strength of candidates by the number of real candidates. This index ranges from 0 (no competitiveness) to 1. A value below 0.33 (i.e., about 1 divided by 3) can be considered as a proxy of a façade congress. See De Luca (2016, p. 29) for a justification of this measurement.

  4. 4.

    It is worth noting that rootedness is analytically distinct from reification. Both dimensions refer to (actual or potential) electoral achievements. However, the former takes in consideration performances over time and the presence of a stable group of supporters. In contrast, the latter points to voters’ attitudes at a given point in time.

  5. 5.

    Given that I is the Index, v the score on a ith rank ordering and nv the highest additive score obtainable, in formal terms each sub-index is \(I=\frac{\sum _{i}v_{i}}{n_{v}}\). The calculation is based on the assumption that institutionalization is a multidimensional concept and therefore each dimension contributes in a crucial way. For each dimension, we have proposed a couple of indicators, which are theoretically derived and should be taken all into account. The final index weights equally all the components of institutionalization, whose possible differences in terms of relevance are substantially collapsed by normalizing the values of the three dimensions.

  6. 6.

    The rise of single leaders in the new democratic landscape may be considered as the result of three interrelated processes: a) the development of a direct—not mediated by parties and often emotional—relationship with citizens, so that the leader assumes the role of a political representative “above the party” and the main channel for collecting the popular vote; b) the trend towards a monocratic principle of political action, so that leaders tend to become the true domini of party organizations, while also increasing their control over governmental activities; c) the tendency of political leaders to use their role for private ends, mainly as a springboard for future careers in the business and financial world (see Musella 2018).

  7. 7.

    “Le nuove regole del Movimento 5 Stelle”, Il Post, 30 December 2017.

  8. 8.

    According to the aforementioned Kenig’s index, about 0.18. Data are drawn from “Di Maio candidato premier M5S. Alle primarie grilline 37mila votanti”. Il Messaggero, 23 settembre 2017.

  9. 9.

    See http://www.termometropolitico.it/sondaggi-politici-elettorali (accessed on 25 October 2018).

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Correspondence to Fortunato Musella.

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We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers and to the two editors of the special issue for their valuable comments.

Appendix

Appendix

Operationalization and Party Scores



Table 3 Dimensions and indicators of party institutionalization and scores of the M5S on 31 March 2013
Table 4 Dimensions and indicators of party institutionalization and M5S’ scores on 31 May 2014
Table 5 Dimensions and indicators of party institutionalization and M5S’ scores on 25 October 2018

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Musella, F., Vercesi, M. Definitions and measures of party institutionalization in new personal politics: The case of the 5 star movement. Z Vgl Polit Wiss 13, 225–247 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12286-019-00422-8

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Keywords

  • Party institutionalization
  • Personal parties
  • Political personalization
  • Five Star Movement
  • Italy
  • Measurement
  • Multidimensional index

Schlüsselwörter

  • Parteiinstitutionalisierung
  • Personalisierte Parteien
  • Politische Personalisierung
  • Fünf-Sterne-Bewegung
  • Italien
  • Messung
  • Multidimensionaler Index