Elite formation within a political party: the case of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

C. Manikandan, Andrew K J Wyatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is a long-standing regional party in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in common with many parties it has an elite segment that is highly influential. The authors identify and analyse the social composition of the DMK elite at the time of the 2011 assembly election. They argue that the DMK elite need to be understood as a group that is constituted by a set of formal and informal institutional rules. They consider the extent to which family connections or ‘dynastic ties’ alongside other informal rules govern admission to the party elite. They ask to what extent the party elite are drawn from society in general or if the elite are skewed towards a socially privileged segment of Tamil society. This paper disaggregates the party elite in terms of caste, gender and religion. They find that the wider DMK elite of the legislative party bear some microcosmic resemblance to Tamil society but that the elite are segmented so this resemblance is very partial at the more senior levels of the party. They also find that the party has a workable structure and a degree of internal pluralism that is not consistent with claims made in the general literature that parties in India are institutionally weak.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-54
JournalCommonwealth and Comparative Politics
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
  • DMK
  • Tamil Nadu
  • India
  • Political Parties
  • elite
  • caste
  • politics
  • gender


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