Intra-party democracy and internal party power
: a comparative study of Italian political parties

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


What are the consequences generated by different levels of Intra-Party Democracy (IPD) for Internal Party Power (IPP)? This is a crucial question yet still under researched by political scientists. This research I have conducted reduces this deficit. By using as a starting point the assumption that different levels of Intra-Party Democracy have direct consequences on the internal power politics of a party, and by building on Panebianco’s seminal work on party organisation (1982), this dissertation elaborates and test, a newly developed theory on Internal Party Power. This research provides a revised conceptualisation and operationalisation of IPD and a new classification of the leadership election methods. This supports the comprehensive mapping of the party leadership election methods adopted by political parties across European democracies. Secondly, it provides a new theoretical framework which for the first time links the concepts of IPD and Internal Party Power and allows the analysis of their relationship. This innovative framework goes beyond the existing theories on Internal Party Power showing their inadequacy in explaining IPP in the context of the enhancement of IPD. The emergence of a new phenomenon, which I define as “Hyper-Personalisation”, is also theorised and investigated. The research assesses the consequences posed by the extreme levels of IPD in terms of IPP by applying the framework to the analysis of the four main Italian political parties in the context of the 2018 general election. Thanks to the in-depth comparative analysis of the empirical cases presenting low and high levels of IPD, the research shows that high levels of IPD facilitate the rise of the new type of political party defined as “Hyper-Personalised”. This research provides an invaluable contribution to the enhancement of the field around the consequences for the party organisation generated by IPD.
Date of Award1 Apr 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorAnna Gwiazda (Supervisor) & Ruben Ruiz-Rufino (Supervisor)

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