Path: Janda: Political Parties, Home Page > Part 1: Table of Contents > Chapter 15
Kenneth Janda, Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey (New York: The Free Press, 1980)
Chapter 15: Continuity and Change: 1950-1978 (pp. 162-169), p. 162
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(Text below as published in 1980 citation above)

WE CAN STUDY party continuity and change by inquiring into the fate of the original 158 parties active during 1950-1962 in our random sample of 53 countries. We begin this final chapter1 by recalling that only 135 parties in the original sample existed during 1950-1956 while 147 existed in 1957-1962. Moreover, only 124 parties functioned throughout 1950 to 1962. Thus a substantial proportion of parties (22 percent) either died before the end of the period or were born sometime after it began. In either event, the evidence shows that political parties are not the most durable of human creations and moves us to inquire more deeply into the fate of our original sample, especially the causes of party demise.

Each of the original parties in the study was coded as "continuing" or "terminated" as of early 1979. Those that had terminated were also coded for the reason they did not continue. The reasons were varied. Some can be called "voluntary" party decisions. For example, three parties in the Netherlands (the Catholic People's Party, the Christian Historical Union, and the Anti-Revolutionary Party) merged to form the Christian Democratic Appeal in 1976. Somewhat less "voluntary" perhaps, is termination due to a party split, which occurred in India in 1964, when the Indian Communist Party split into two parties, one oriented toward Moscow and the other toward Peking. Although the Moscow (or "rightist") party retained the original name, we regard the new CPI as a different party from the "old" one. (See the discussion of BV101, "name changes," in Chapter 3.) Parties also simply quit for lack of electoral success (as did the French MRP) or for lack of purpose (as did the Kabaka Yekka in Uganda when its leader lost his position and fled the country).

While some of the reasons cited above may seem more "voluntary" than others, all are more under party control than the "involuntary" causes of party demise. In all instances, involuntary causes involved the application of force or the real threat of its application to prevent continued party activities. Two main situations can be distinguished. The more familiar is the banning or suppression of opposition parties by the established government, which caused the end of the Iranian Tudeh Party by 1963 as a functioning (albeit illegal) organization. Somewhat different is the dissolution of the former ruling party by a revolutionary government, which occurred also in Iran when the governing National Resurgence Party was dissolved in the wake of the Shah's overthrow. Both situations involve applications of governmental force, but the status of the government at the time is so different that the distinction was preserved in our coding.

The fates of our original parties are reported in Table 15.1, which shows the distribution of all 158 parties across our coding categories. Only 61 percent of the parties that were active in 1950-1962 survived through 1978. Those that terminated divided nearly evenly between voluntary and involuntary causes, with governmental suppression constituting the largest single cause and absorption by merger ranking second.

TABLE 15.1: Fates of Original 158 Political Parties Existing during 1950-1962
Party Fate
Percent of All Parties

Continuing to 1979


Terminated before 1979


Merged with other parties


Split into other parties


Quit for lack of success, leader


Voluntary termination


Suppressed by established government


Overthrown in revolution, coup


Involuntary termination


N = 158


For whatever reason, a total of 61 parties (39 percent) failed to survive to 1979. While these parties were dying off, however, other parties were being formed. Suppose we had applied the same criteria for selecting parties from 1963 to 1978 as we did from 1950 to 1962. How many new parties would have qualified? Chapter 1 ex-

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