Political current


August 19, 2022

In political terminology, a political current (or political faction) is a group of people who organize themselves within a party in order to impose their own political line and / or to acquire a greater portion of key posts and positions for its members.


Where the activity of the current unfolds outside of political power in the strict sense, by extension the term has been used to indicate "the group of associated people who, sharing a specific policy direction (...), move their activities from the theoretical-speculative to the practical-application profile of administration management (...) and, making use of the electoral support that allocates one or more members of the group to associative positions within the category or external to it, negatively affects the progression career (...), altering the selection by merit with the means of belonging to a faction or with those of the exchange of influences ".

National definitions

Considering the autonomous organization as a distinctive character of the fractions, its presence can be identified by paying attention not only to groups that compete openly in internal elections, but also to those groups that maintain a distinct organization and autonomously negotiate their own entry into coalitions that they govern the party, or their adherence to individual decisions of the majority, in exchange for at least partial acceptance of their political line and / or rewards for their members. The fraction can be considered as the specification of a more general phenomenon, what Harold Lasswell defines: "A group belonging to a larger group that works for the benefit of particular people or particular political lines". Not all the authors who have dealt with factions have also bothered to terminologically distinguish the phenomenon of dissent organized in the party from phenomena similar to it. English-language authors, for example, use the same term faction to indicate: factions in the classical sense, aggregations at a social level that influence political formations especially in countries undergoing modernization, pre-party formations at parliamentary level, trends intra and inter-party ideological phenomena, the phenomena of dissidence in the parliamentary vote, and finally the fractions as defined here. This too broad and ambiguous definition reflects difficulties in conceptualizing the phenomenon, difficulties that have entailed many problems in historical comparison and comparison in different political systems. It is therefore preferable not to adopt the literal translation of faction (faction) to avoid this ambiguity, due to the obsolete character of the term in our political language, and above all for its often negative connotation. The word commonly used in Italy to indicate the fraction is current. another term that has notable shortcomings due to its euphemistic and minimizing character; current, in fact, would be better suited to designating a tendency, an ideological or programmatic line, than the presence and action of an organized group. In truth, the term fraction also lends itself to being criticized for its versatility: in Germany, for example, the term fraktion generally indicates the parliamentary representation of various parties. Nevertheless this seems to be the preferred term, for at least two reasons: its origin from mathematical language allows, in fact, the greatest distance from evaluative implications, and at the same time the easiest linguistic translatability. It is therefore the most suitable term for comparison; furthermore it must be taken into account that the term fraction has historically already been validly used. Think, for example, of the European socialist and communist parties, where the term fraction was used p