Electoral Competition and Factional Sabotage
54 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2019 Last revised: 18 Sep 2020
Date Written: March 26, 2019
Intra-party sabotage is a widespread phenomenon that undermines the strength of political parties. What brings opposing factions to engage in sabotage rather than working to enhance the party image, and what strategies can parties adopt to contain it? I study a model of elections in which intra-party factions can devote resources to campaign for the party or to undermine each other and obtain more power. The party redistributes electoral spoils among factions to motivate their investment in campaigning activities. The model shows that sabotage increases when the stakes of the election are low — e.g. in consensus democracies that grant power to the losing party — because the incentives to focus on the fight for internal power increase. It also suggests that the optimal party strategy for winning the election in the face of intra-party competition is to reward factions with high powered incentives when campaigning effort can be easily monitored, but treat factions equally otherwise.
Keywords: Factions, Party Organization, Electoral Competition, Sabotage
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