Faction polarization and ideological realignment in South Korea

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Several studies have emphasized the ideological mismatch between political parties and the mass public in Korea. In spite of party polarization, Korean citizens have tended to be ideologically moderate. This mismatch has been a puzzle, in that ordinary citizens are likely to realign their ideologies following those of political elites. This article provides the key to the puzzle regarding faction polarization in a political party. The intraparty conflicts among political moguls' personal factions rather than inter-party conflicts led to the ideological realignment of Korean citizens. In particular, fierce bilateral confrontation of Liberty Korea Party (LKP) factions has led to faction polarization that increased not only the number of extremely conservative citizens but also that of moderate people. Compared to the LKP, the Democratic Party (DP) was less likely to cause faction polarization, because of multilateral conflicts among small factions, which led to single-peaked ideological realignment at slightly progressive points.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalKorea Observer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

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  • Faction polarization
  • Ideological realignment
  • Korean political party
  • Personal faction


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