The Internal Politics of Parties: The Law of Curvilinear Disparity Revisited


Journal Article

One of the few efforts to link systemic and organizational determinants of party strategies is provided by what John May dubbed the ‘law of curvilinear disparity’. According to this law, voters, party activists and leaders have necessarily divergent political ideologies. These systematic differences are attributable to the activists’ motivations and the constraints of party competition. This paper argues that the law is empirically valid only under distinctive behavioural, organizational and institutional conditions, which are not specified in its general formulation. Thus, the law is only a special case in a broader theory reconstructing the interaction between constituencies, intra‚Äźparty politics and party competition. This alternative theory is partially tested with survey data from party activists in the Belgian ecology parties Agalev and Ecolo. Copyright © 1989, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kitschelt, H

Published Date

  • January 1, 1989

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 37 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 400 - 421

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9248

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0032-3217

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1467-9248.1989.tb00279.x

Citation Source

  • Scopus