The Birth of Parties

Desiree Desierto, George Mason University
Mark Koyama, George Mason University

Political parties play a crucial role in modern democracies. Indeed according to some scholars modern democracy is unthinkable without parties (Schattschneider, 1942). But how and why do political parties form? This paper addresses this question by considering the origins of the first political parties: the Whigs and Tories in late 17th century England. This paper develops a new theory to understand why the conflict over the succession known as the Exclusion Crisis that arose in the 1670s led to the formation of the first political party. It tests the predictions of this theory using a newly collected dataset of members of Parliament (MPs).

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 Presented in Session 131. Constitutions and Representation