Bending the Iron Law

41 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2019 Last revised: 12 May 2022

See all articles by Giovanna Maria Invernizzi

Giovanna Maria Invernizzi

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Carlo Prato

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 30, 2019

Abstract

How is power shared within political parties? Michels' iron law of oligarchy predicts concentration of power to achieve efficiency. We study the internal organization of parties as the solution of a moral hazard problem between a party principal (or conference) and two factions. Factional mobilization effort bolsters a party's electoral chances but can only be imperfectly monitored---via an internal contest. We model a party's internal organization as a system of ``prizes,'' an allocation of resources between winner and loser of the internal contest. We uncover conditions under which, contrary to Michels' iron law, intra-party power-sharing arises: institutional settings that award more resources and policy influence to election winners should produce party structures that promote a more egalitarian allocation of power across factions. This form of internal party democracy should be more frequent within smaller parties and in settings where activists' mobilization is less consequential for electoral success (e.g., with strong partisan attachments).

Keywords: Power Sharing, Party Organization, Political Contests

JEL Classification: D02, D72

Suggested Citation

Invernizzi, Giovanna Maria and Prato, Carlo, Bending the Iron Law (September 30, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3462071 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3462071

Giovanna Maria Invernizzi

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Carlo Prato (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
135
Abstract Views
832
rank
289,982
PlumX Metrics