I've been amused recently by the US Republican party struggling to pass healthcare legislation, and by Mitch McConnell's mixed metaphor of it being a Rubik's Cube that somehow has "dials that need to be turned just right." The Republicans have a majority in the House and Senate, and they also have a Republican president. They thought passing legislation would be a cakewalk. Yet they still struggle mightily, because the various conservative and moderate factions are unable to compromise. Is there a term for a political party that has this problem? I think countries that have more than two major parties are likely to see this issue more. The extreme political polarity in the US today makes this issue more pronounced than before.

  • "I think countries that have more than two major parties are likely to see this issue more." I don't see why. Why would internal party politics be different based on how many parties there are? That would be similar to arguing that the commenters to your question disagree more with eachother if there are more questions being posted on English.SE. One has no bearing on the other.
    – Flater
    Jul 12, 2017 at 10:48
  • @Flater Well, I'm guessing that countries with more than two parties still require a majority-vote to pass legislation -- which could be wrong (which is why I prefaced the sentence with "I think"). But if it is indeed the case, then you may have uneasy alliances between different factions with widely-varying platforms. And so you may have more "splintering" in a party that has tension among those who are interested in staying faithful to the platform versus those eager to compromise with their allies.
    – user83454
    Jul 13, 2017 at 18:16
  • From experience with multi-party-coalitions (we've always had them), I've never seen any splintering occur inside a party. I think you also need to consider the fact that if many parties exist, it becomes a lot easier to jump ship to another (similar) party, as opposed to needing go against your own party. We do get a lot of people who jump ship when they disagree with their party. But I can't think of any case where a party itself was divided. This is using Belgium as a reference, by the way.
    – Flater
    Jul 14, 2017 at 7:40
  • Jumping ship in the US is unheard of. I can't think of a time. Senator Lieberman, I guess, over ten years ago, and he caught a lot of flack for that.
    – user83454
    Jul 14, 2017 at 18:13
  • Yeah but if you only have two parties, you disagree on pretty much everything you find important (because the things you agree on are not topics of discussion since you already agree on them), and jumping ship means you have no real stance and just want to be a politician (since you've jumped towards the stark opposite of what you used to represent). Here, you can jump ship to a party that has the same ideals 90% of the time and it doesn't make you look like you're giving up your ideals.
    – Flater
    Jul 14, 2017 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


You might call the party a splintered party. This phrase has currency, as evidenced here.

The party might be said to be experiencing infighting, defined as follows:

prolonged and often bitter dissension or rivalry among members of a group or organization (Merriam-Webster).

The party might also be said to be in turmoil, defined as follows:

a state or condition of extreme confusion, agitation, or commotion (Merriam-Webster).

Although turmoil is a general term, it has political connotations. See here.

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