Conceptualising the Multi-Level Party: Two Complementary Approaches



While party research has seen a number of conceptual developments in recent years, it has not kept pace with parties becoming more territorial as a result of the increasing importance of sub-national and supranational governance. This article lays down a framework for conceptualising and analysing multi-level parties (MLPs). We propose a synthesis of the formal and non-formal aspects of power; the former highlighting party rules and procedures, the latter focusing upon the ideational structures – norms and competing ideologies/discourses – within which party members operate. For empirical research on the MLP we propose to focus on autonomy and influence to measure the extent of (formal and non-formal) multi-levelness and to grasp better the strategies of regional branches vis-à-vis the centre.