The Factionalized Elites indicator considers the fragmentation of state institutions along ethnic, class, clan, racial or religious lines, as well as and brinksmanship and gridlock between ruling elites. It also factors the use of nationalistic political rhetoric by ruling elites, often in terms of nationalism, xenophobia, communal irredentism (e.g., a “greater Serbia”) or of communal solidarity (e.g., “ethnic cleansing” or “defending the faith”). In extreme cases, it can be representative of the absence of legitimate leadership widely accepted as representing the entire citizenry. The Factionalized Elites indicator measures power struggles, political competition, political transitions, and where elections occur will factor in the credibility of electoral processes (or in their absence, the perceived legitimacy of the ruling class).

Questions to consider may include*

Representative Leadership

  • Leadership: Is leadership fairly elected? Is leadership representative of the population?
  • Fragmentation: Are there factionalized elites, tribal elites and/or fringe groups? How powerful are they?
  • Political Reconciliation: Is there a political reconciliation process?
  • Representation in Military: Is the military representative of the population?


  • National Identity: Is there a sense of national identity? Are there strong feelings of nationalism? Or are there calls for separatism?
  • Extremist Rhetoric: Does hate radio and media exist?
  • Stereotyping: Is religious, ethnic, or other stereotyping prevalent and is there scape-goating?
  • Cross Cultural Respect: Does cross-cultural respect exist?

Resource Distribution

  • Concentration of Wealth: Is wealth concentrated in the hands of a few?
  • Growing Middle Class: Is there a burgeoning middle class?
  • Control of Resources: Does any one group control the majority of resources?
  • Resources Distribution: Are resources fairly distributed? Does the government adequately distribute wealth through its tax system and taxes?

Equality and Equity

  • Law: Are the laws democratic or extreme?
  • Representation in Judicial System: Is the system representative of the population?


* Indicator descriptions are not exhaustive, and are intended only as an entry point for further interpretive analysis by the user.