Path: Janda: Political Parties, Home Page > Part 1: Table of Contents > Chapter 11
Kenneth Janda, Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey (New York: The Free Press, 1980)
Chapter 11: Coherence (pp. 118-125), this is p. 118
(you can navigate to other pages by clicking on page numbers below)
p. 119
p. 120
p. 121
p. 122
p. 123
p. 124
p. 125
(Text below as published in 1980 citation above)

THIS CONCEPT RELATES to Anderson's "consensus," which he defines broadly as "the degree of congruence in the cultural orientations of various individuals and groups comprising an organization." He points out that parties' scholars are interested in the issues which obtain consensus, in the level of consensus obtained for different issues, and in the distribution of consensus across party organs (1968, pp. 396-397). Under this conception, consensus deals primarily with attitudinal agreement among party members. Not only is this type of data unlikely to be obtained through the library research procedures of the parties' project, but attitudinal agreement by itself appears to be too static a concept for the comparative analysis of party politics. The fact that party members disagree over an issue is undoubtedly important, but it is important to know how, if at all, that disagreement is expressed in intraparty politics. Therefore, we choose to focus instead on the concept of "coherence," defined as the degree of congruence in the attitudes and behavior of party members. In so doing, we follow the lead of Huntington, who introduces the concept of coherence, defines it in terms of consensus, and then suggests ways that coherence can be measured (1965, pp. 403-405).

The equivalent of coherence has been examined in studies of party "cohesion" and "factionalism." These studies have sought to identify the sources of coherence and to assess the consequences of varying degrees of coherence upon party effectiveness. Our data should be able to support both types of inquiry, as we operationalize coherence with reference to six basic variables:

10.01 -- Legislative Cohesion
10.02 -- Ideological Factionalism
10.03 -- Issue Factionalism
10.04 -- Leadership Factionalism
10.05 -- Strategic or Tactical Factionalism
10.06 -- Party Purges
Basic Variable 10.01: Legislative Cohesion

The legislature constitutes one of the main political arenas in which one would expect to find evidence for or against party "coherence." A party that ranks high on coherence should demonstrate high cohesiveness, if not unanimity, in its legislative behavior. Although there are different forms of legislative behavior, one of the most important forms for comparative analysis is the voting decision. In a cohesive party, the party members in the legislature tend to vote the same way on issues before the chamber. Although studies have shown that certain characteristics of the political system--for example, a presidential or parliamentary form of government--strongly affect the degree of party cohesion in legislative voting (Ozbudun 1970), the lack of cohesion still reflects a lack of coherence--whatever the cause.

Comparative studies of legislative behavior have also disclosed great differences in the number of voting decisions rendered within legislatures of various countries. But it is not easy to judge the effect of these differences on the measurement of party cohesion, and we do not allow for them in our conceptualization. Wherever possible we seek to measure cohesion as demonstrated in "roll-call votes," which record the voting positions of individual legislators. Such votes are referred to variously as "divisions" or "record" votes in different countries.

Operational Definition. Suitable data for this measure were hard to obtain. Ideally, we sought data from which we could calculate the mean index of cohesion, a measure devised by Stuart A. Rice and calculated for a given vote as follows:

Index of Cohesion =

| N "Yes" - N "No" |
| N "Yes" + N "No" |

= | %"Yes" - %"No" |

This measure ranges from .0 in the case of the members of the party splitting 50:50 in support and opposition to the bill to 1.0 in the case of all members voting the same, either all in favor or all opposed (see Anderson et al. 1966). The mean index is simply the "average" index for all bills voted on.

Unfortunately, the parties' literature rarely reported precise indices of cohesion for the legislative voting. When party divisions on legislative votes themselves were divulged, the index was calculated or approxi-

go to page 119