Society Has Factions Too, But Their Fluidity and the Need to Appeal to Many Leads to Ideological Impurity of Political Parties

We’ve all heard about the prevalence and strength of factions in politics, particularly the power that factions can hold when determining the policy of a party or even the people in it- think of the now infamous New South Wales right faction which, by virtue of its own actions has been dragged through the mud in recent years in Australian politics. It is equally true too that society is made up of factions, even if they do differ to the relatively unmoving in ideology groupings within political parties in the Australian political landscape.

These “political factions” that exist outside of the political sphere, in broader society, unlike their intra party equivalent are not stagnant and people within society often straddle different factional groupings or move in and out of these different and border-less sects depending on individual policy leanings where a person can support the party overall, but may strongly disagree with one or some of their particular policies.

This phenomenon too, does occur in political parties, but of course democracy rules and when policies are voted on by the party and carried by a majority, those in the minority as is fair will lose out.

The difference between these like-minded sections in political parties and in broader society is that these numbers in the latter are open to decrease over particular issues and increase over others whereas within these men and women of similar mind in our political system tend to stick together on many

As a result of societal faction instability and fluidity, ideological purity of political parties in the Australian political environment is non-existent. While a party may not completely stray away from their respective political beliefs, there will often be occasions where political reality deems it necessary to nudge or even overstep the boundaries of their political faith.

Political parties have to appeal to all the different factions that exist within the broader electorate, which political parties have to represent in order to hold a majority in the parliament. It is an electoral reality that parties at some stage in the electoral cycle will have to resort to populism in order to appeal to the vastly different stakeholders that exist in any municipality, state or c0untry.

The trick for political parties is to strive for relative ideological cleanliness, to not give in too much to populism and not go too far down the path of walking away from the ideology their respective party was created to pursue and to uphold to the perceived benefit of the people. For if our parties were to venture too far from their political and ideological origins, then that can be no good for the party and would lead to the breaking away of the “true believers”, those who firmly believe in the ideology of the party and would get disenfranchised were it to forget where its roots were forged.

Either way, both society and politics has factions, albeit of a different nature and strength and if the latter ignores the former, then it does so at the downfall of its wider representation, the political party. It’s a delicate balancing act for political parties to respond to this kind of movement within society.

About Tom Bridge

A perennial student of politics, providing commentary for money and for free. Email me at or contact me on 0435 035 095 for engagements.

Posted on March 28, 2012, in Federal Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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