Using the Business Franchise Model for a Political Party Structure

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Political parties need size to have credibility required to win enough seats to be a legitimate force in the Parliament. In the Croatian Right, big egos result in every politician wanting to be the center of attention - to be the man with the plan that all others will coalesce to. Unfortunately no one wants to coalesce. At best we see temporary coalitions.

Croatia needs a few big fish in a big pond unfortunately we have many self-professed big fish in many small ponds. Somehow we must take into account the weakness associated with ego when developing a political organization. The business franchise model might provide an organizational structure which provides the benefits of centralization and economies of scale while allowing individual politicians to be the big fish that they need to be.

Note: The franchise model in politics is fundamentally a more sophisticated form of coalition. The present coalition system suffers from the weakness that each political party spends time and resources building their own individual brands which contribute to the clutter in the political market.

In the Croatian political market, each of the 11 constituencies (izborne jedinice) can be considered a franchisee and the central team is the franchisor responsible for the brand development.

By dividing up job responsibilities we can eliminate waste due to replication of what others are doing. Strategic jobs can be handled by the central team and tactical jobs carried out by the constituency teams. For example research, legal and administration work can be carried out by one central team for all 11 constituencies. In this way the local team can spend more time talking to voters.

Few of the small parties attain any benefits from economies of scale and standardization. The easiest benefit to spot is in media buying. By aggregating media buying each of the small parties might be able to benefit from a 20 to 25% discount on bulk media buys. From a creative side, for a "fee" of 50,000 kuna paid into the central fund each team will benefit from over 500,000 kuna worth of marketing value.

A national marketing campaign must be run by one team in order to ensure a coordinated message with no contractions. The national message can be refined for the local constituencies. Think national but act local.

Brand takes a long time to develop. The small parties do not have the resources to carry out brand building exercises in between elections. By funding a centralized marketing department, each party can benefit from ongoing brand building.

While the individual parties drop their activities levels to "hibernation mode" levels, the central team decreases the activity levels also but continues to do some work in the "maintenance mode". The central team can work on various activities including assessment of government decisions, publicity events and fundraising.

An important tool which none of the individual parties has the resources to develop is a voter database. A central organization can develop a master database which each of the franchise parties can access and carry out voter communication campaigns.

Over time the franchise model might grow tighter and merge into one party / brand.

Extra benefit: The Franchisor can develop performance criteria that the franchisee must meet if they want to keep their franchise rights. If performance criteria are not met the franchisor can find a new franchisee for the constituency.

If you find this concept intriguing, download and read the following paper:

Parties as Franchise Systems
R. Kenneth Carty

The article begins by identifying a number of apparently dissonant characteristics of modern party organization, suggesting that they define patterns of internal organizational relationships that are more strat- archical than hierarchical. To provide a framework for analysing the structure and activities of stratarchical parties, the article develops a franchise model of party organization. After identifying the essential elements of the franchise party, and particularly the contract that defines it, the article points to how the model elucidates the distinctive character of factionalism, membership and leadership in modern political parties.

A similar article by the same author, but using the Canadian political market as an example:

The Politics of Tecumseh Corners: Canadian Political Parties as Franchise Organizations

Canadian political parties are charged with aggregating the interests of a diverse and changing electorate in order to balance particularistic local demands with general national interests. This article asks what kind of organizations have they adopted to do this? How does their organizational character shape their capacities and their practices? The argument outlines a franchise organization model and explores the extent to which it can be used to explain Canadian party behaviour. The article exploits this model to analyze questions of party membership, the place of incumbents, leadership and electoral organization as they are played out in Canadian politics.