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Entryism (also called entrism, enterism, or infiltration) is a political strategy in which an organisation or state encourages its members or supporters to join another, usually larger, organization in an attempt to expand influence and expand their ideas and program. If the organization being "entered" is hostile to entrism, the entrists may engage in a degree of subterfuge and subversion to hide the fact that they are an organization in their own right.
Horton (2014) gives the "example of entryism – the infiltration of a self-proclaimed human rights activist into an institution committed to neoliberalism, a market fundamentalism that has been credited with eroding health systems in dozens of low and middle-income countries." Leslie (1999) uses the example of gender: "alternative, yet complementary, strategies of 'entryism', with attempts to enter and transform these institutions' gender inequalities from within (as missionaries)."
Trotsky's "French Turn"
The "French Turn" refers to the classic form of entrism advocated by Leon Trotsky in his essays on "The French Turn". In June 1934, he proposed for the French Trotskyists to dissolve their Communist League and to join the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) and for the Communist League to dissolve its youth section to join more easily with revolutionary elements. The tactic was adopted in August 1934, despite some opposition, and successfully raised the group's membership to 300 activists.
Proponents of the tactic advocated that the Trotskyists should enter the social democratic parties to connect with revolutionary socialist currents within them and then to steer those currents toward Leninism. However, entryism lasted briefly since the leadership of the SFIO started to expel the Trotskyists. The Trotskyists of the Workers Party of the United States also successfully used their entry into the Socialist Party of America to recruit their youth group and other members. Similar tactics were also used by Trotskyist organisations in other countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Poland. Entryism was used to connect with and recruit leftward-moving political currents inside radical parties.
- A "split perspective" is sometimes employed in which the smaller party intends to remain in the larger party for a short period of time, with the intention of splitting the organisation and leaving with more members than it began with.
- The entrist tactic can work successfully, in its own terms, over a long period. For example, it was attempted by the Militant tendency in the United Kingdom, whose members worked within the Labour Party from the 1950s onward and managed to get control in the Labour Party Young Socialists and Liverpool City Council before it was expelled in the 1980s. Many other Trotskyist groups have attempted similar feats, but few have gained the influence that the Militant tendency attained.
Deep entryism sui generis
In these types of entryism, activists engage in a long-term perspective in which they work within an organisation for decades in the hope of gaining influence and a degree of power and perhaps even control of the larger organisation.
In entryism sui generis ("of a special type"), Trotskyists, for example, do not openly argue for the building of a Trotskyist party. "Deep entryism" refers to the long duration.
The tactic is closely identified with Michel Pablo and Gerry Healy, who were leaders of the Fourth International in the late 1940s and the 1950s. The "deep entry" tactic was developed as a way for Trotskyists to respond to the Cold War. In countries with mass social democratic or communist parties, it was as difficult to be accepted into these parties as it was to build separate Trotskyist parties. Therefore, Trotskyists were advised to join the mass party.
In Europe, that was the approach used, for example, by The Club and later Socialist Action in the Labour Party, and by Fourth Internationalists inside the Communist Parties. In France, Trotskyist organizations, most notably the Parti des Travailleurs and its predecessors, have successfully entered trade unions and mainstream left-wing parties.
Some political parties, such as the Workers' Party in Brazil or the Scottish Socialist Party, allow political tendencies to organise within them openly. In those cases, the term "entryism" is not usually used. Political groups that work within a larger organisation but also maintain a "public face" often reject the term "entryism" but are sometimes still considered to be entryists by the larger organization.
Examples by country
In Australia, the practice was widespread during the 1950s, when the Communist Party of Australia battled against right-wing Industrial Groups for control of Australian trade unions. The 'Groupers' subsequently formed the Democratic Labor Party. Today, the practice in Australia is often known as a type of branch stacking.
In recent times, RSPCA Australia has been described as being the victims of the practice. The National Farmers' Federation and Animals Australia have each been accused of infiltrating branches of RSPCA Australia in an attempt to promote opposing policies concerning battery hens, intensive pig farming, and the live export of sheep.
Since the 2000s, the religious right has practiced entryism into a number of state branches of the Liberal Party of Australia, notably in New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria.
In 2018, it was revealed that the NSW National party and its youth wing, the Young Nationals had been infiltrated by the far right with more than 30 members being investigated for alleged links. Leader McCormack denounced the infiltration, and several suspected far rightists were expelled from the party and its youth wing.
Although the term "entryism" was used little, if at all, opponents accused David Orchard and his supporters of attempting to win the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party in the late 1990s and the early 2000s decade with the intention of dramatically changing its policies.
Orchard had made his name as a leading opponent of free trade, which was perhaps the singular signature policy of the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. While opponents pointed to the remarkable distance, Orchard and his supporters argued that they represented "traditional" Conservative values and the economic nationalism of the older Conservative Party and the Progressive Conservative Party had espoused before Mulroney, namely under John Diefenbaker.
Opponents of the 2003 merger between the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance also charged Alliance members with infiltration. It was widely speculated that most, if not all, of the approximately 25,000 Canadians who swelled the Progressive Conservative Party Party's membership before the merger vote were Alliance members, who likely voted in favour of the merger.
Members of Socialist Action, a small Trotskyist group, play a leading role in the New Democratic Party Socialist Caucus, a small faction on the left wing of the social democratic NDP, and advocate that their members join and engage with the NDP. That, however, does not fit with most definitions of entryism because of its continued existence apart and separate from the NDP, in addition to its work in it. Fightback, a rival Trotskyist organization, carries out a more classical form of entryism in the NDP, particularly in its youth wings, and models itself after the British Militant tendency, which practiced entryism into the Labour Party and, at its peak, was the one of the most successful entryist organizations on record.
After the fall of the British Columbia Social Credit Party, the British Columbia Liberal Party saw the shift by the joining of former Social Credit members. As a result, the new membership saw the party shift much more towards the right in fiscal policy. Thus, entryism led to a complete takeover of the original party by former Social Credit members. That, however, is not formal entryism since former Social Credit members did not operate their own organization within the Liberal Party.
During the Northern Expedition in China, the Chinese Communist Party joined the party of the Nationalist Party of China (Kuomintang) for a time (1923–1927), creating the First United Front, but one of the Communists' ideas behind doing so was the possibility of eventually gaining a majority in the Nationalist Party and shaping its policies. Eventually, the situation degraded, the Nationalists expelled the Communists from their party, and the Chinese Civil War began. The war was paused for a time (1936–1945) to allow for a Second United Front during the Chinese resistance to Japanese imperial rule. However, the civil war resumed again and remained active until 1950, after the Communists had won.
The Marxist–Leninist Party of the Netherlands was a fake pro-China communist party in the Netherlands set up by the Dutch secret services, the BVD, to develop contacts with the Chinese government for espionage purposes. It existed from 1968 to the early 1990s.
The country's four small communist parties, the Communist Party of New Zealand (CPNZ), Socialist Unity Party (SUP), Workers Communist League (WCL), and the Socialist Action League (SAL), have tried to influence the Labour Party, the trade unions, and various popular issues, like the anti-Springbok tour protests, Māori biculturalism, and the anti-nuclear movement. During the ANZUS diplomatic crisis 1984 to 1985, which resulted from New Zealand's nuclear ship ban, the pro-Moscow SUP tried to infiltrate anti-nuclear organisations, as part of a strategy of steering New Zealand's foreign policy away from its traditional ally, the United States.
New Zealand's Christian Right also attempted to obtain electoral influence. During the 1987 general election, several conservative Christian groups, including the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Women for Life and the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, tried to infiltrate the National Party by running conservative Christian individuals as candidates. The groups also attacked the Labour government's policies towards peace education, sex education, abortion, Māori biculturalism, and the ANZUS alliance. Several CCC supporters contested the 1987 election as National candidates, including Rob Wheeler (Mount Albert), Andrew Stanley (Onehunga), and Howard Martin (Papatoetoe). However, the efforts met little electoral success, and the Lange government was re-elected for a second term.
During the 1990s, another conservative tendency emerged within the National Party by the establishment of the informal Christian Voice in 1998. However, the group had faded by the mid-2000s, when several minor Christian political parties including former National MP Graeme Lee's Christian Democrat Party, Peter Dunne's United Future, and Brian Tamaki's Destiny New Zealand emerged to court the evangelical Christian vote. As a result of the attempts at taking over the party, National quietly centralised its candidate selection procedures.
Despite the tensions with moral conservatives, National Party leader Don Brash still accepted covert assistance from the Exclusive Brethren during the 2005 general elections. The assistance included organizing a separate electoral canvassing and advertising campaign that attacked the incumbent Labour and Green coalition government. The strategy backfired and contributed to Prime Minister Helen Clark's second re-election. The controversy arising from the Exclusive Brethren's canvassing on behalf of National, Brash's successor, Prime Minister John Key, explicitly rejected any assistance from the Exclusive Brethren during the 2008 election.
A long-lasting entry tactic was used by the Trotskyist group Militant tendency, whose initially small numbers of supporters worked within the mainstream Labour Party from the 1960s. By the early 1980s they still numbered only in the low thousands but had managed to gain a controlling influence of the Labour Party Young Socialists and Liverpool City Council, however shortly thereafter Militant activists began to be expelled after an internal Labour ruling that their organisation breached the party's constitution. A remnant of the group now operates within the Labour Party as Socialist Appeal but the majority then left to form the Socialist Party (England and Wales).
The Guardian columnist George Monbiot claims that a group, influenced by the defunct Marxist Living Marxism magazine, has pursued entryist tactics in British scientific and media organisations since the late 1990s.
The 2015 Labour Party leadership election was the target of a campaign by The Daily Telegraph for Conservative sympathisers to join the Labour party (at a fee of £3) in order to vote for the left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn, with the view that he would render the party unelectable. That strategy was labelled 'entryism' by observers,[which?] though it is unclear that it qualifies under the commonly-understood definition, unlike the broader term 'subversion'. Likewise, the left-wing Momentum group has been accused of entryism and engaging in the Militant-style tactics, with movements made by prominent Labour MPs (current and suspended) to deselect MPs who did not support Corbyn.
In the wake of the Brexit vote in 2016, some supporters of Leave feared that the government would negotiate a deal that would keep far too many ties between with the European Union and so members of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which had struggled politically since Brexit, joined the Conservative Party, along with previously independent Leave supporters. The movement was especially pronounced in the constituencies of Conservative MPs who had supported Remain. The group Leave.EU ran campaigns that urged its supporters to join the Conservatives to deselect MPs who did not support a hard Brexit. Those who joined the party during that period were credited with helping Boris Johnson win the leadership election (and thus become Prime Minister) after Prime Minister Theresa May's resignation.
Supporters of Fred Newman and the New Alliance Party joined the Reform Party en masse and gained some level of control over the New York State affiliate of the Reform Party.[date missing] Another United States politician, Lyndon LaRouche, has attempted an entryist strategy in the Democratic Party since 1980, but with little success. Many Libertarians or libertarian-leaning politicians have run for office as Republicans, and several (such as Ron Paul, his son Rand Paul, Mark Sanford, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Gary Johnson) have been successful, although some of them have subsequently left the Republican Party.
Laws against entryism
Some jurisdictions have passed laws to discourage entryism. In New York State elections, changes in party affiliation by voters already registered are not formally processed until a week after that year's general election to prevent entryism in a primary election since they are open only to voters who are already enrolled in the party holding the primary. The state's Wilson Pakula law, passed after American Labor Party candidates were entering and winning Democratic and Republican Party primaries in the late 1940s, also requires candidates who are not members of a particular political party to get formal permission from the relevant jurisdiction's party committees before they run in a primary election.
- Horton, Richard (2014) Offline: the Kim Doctrine The Lancet, Sep 6, 2014, Vol.384(9946), p.840
- Leslie, A. (1999). Missionaries and Mandarins. United Nations Chronicle, 36(2), 82-83.
- Gilligan, Andrew (26 September 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn's top team encouraged street riots". telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 April 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- Nic MacLellan, 'The Election and Defection of the NDP', Peace Studies, July 1985, pp 18-19
- Ken Mansell, 'Making Sense of the NDP Split', Peace Studies, July 1985, pp 19-20
- Greg Adamson, 'The rise and undermining of anti-nuclear political action Archived 17 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine', Green Left Weekly issue 361, 19 May 1999.
- "A Blind Eye", ABC Four Corners". 21 June 2004. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011.
- "Who's behind the Safe School videos? The concerned mums' political connections". The Age. 12 Aug 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-08-15.
- An abridged list of articles discussing Far right infiltration:
- "'These guys are crazy': Barnaby Joyce backs 'Nazi' expulsions after backtrack". The Guardian. The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
- "Nationals clear man accused of leading alleged neo-Nazi branch stacking". The Guardian. The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
- Hutchins, Gareth. "Far right extremists 'not welcome' in Nationals, leader says amid investigation". The Guardian. The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
- Michael, McGowen. "NSW Young Nationals expel and suspend members over far-right links". The Guardian. The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
- Leung, Edwin Pak-wah (2002-10-16). Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Civil War. Scarecrow Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-8108-6609-6.
- Gustafson, Barry (2004). "Chapter 2: New Zealand in the Cold War World". In Trapeznik, Alexander; Fox, Aaron (eds.). Lenin's Legacy Down Under. Otago University Press. pp. 29–30. ISBN 1-877276-90-1.
- Jesson, Bruce; Ryan, Allanah; Spoonley, Paul (1988). "Chapter 4: Remoralising Politics". Revival of the Right: New Zealand Politics in the 1980s (1st ed.). Heinemann Reed. pp. 82–84. ISBN 0-7900-0003-2.
- James, Colin (2010). "Chapter 7.3: National". In Miller, Raymond (ed.). New Zealand Government & Politics, Fifth Edition. Oxford University Press. p. 491. ISBN 9780195585094.
- James, Colin (21 May 2012). "Party Principles - National Party". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 17 November 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- James, Colin (21 May 2012). "Party composition and organisation - National Party". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 17 November 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- A. Barry, Nicky Hager (2008). The Hollow Men (4 3/4 inch). Wellington: Community Media Trust. Archived from the original on 2015-04-15.
- Colin James, "National," p.491
- The Guardian comment, December 9, 2003. "Invasion of the entryists" by George Monbiot. Online at  and "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-18. Retrieved 2007-10-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), retrieved on October 25, 2007.
- Desk, Telegraph Comment (15 July 2015). "How you can help Jeremy Corbyn win - and destroy the Labour Party". Archived from the original on 16 November 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Grierson, Jamie (15 July 2015). "Daily Telegraph urges readers to 'doom' Labour by backing Jeremy Corbyn". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- Helm, Toby; Hacillo, Alex (2017-03-18). "Secret tape reveals Momentum plot to seize control of Labour". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Archived from the original on 2019-07-05. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- "Row over Labour MP's 'democracy roadshow'". 2018-08-21. Archived from the original on 2019-07-17. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Jones, Owen (August 30, 2018). "Tories courted the Ukippers: now they'll be consumed by them". The Guardian. Archived from the original on July 25, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- "Deselect your Remainer Conservative MP". Leave.EU. 2019-01-22. Archived from the original on 2019-07-17. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Mueller, Benjamin (July 19, 2019). "New Members Flood U.K.'s Conservatives, Yanking the Party Right". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 25, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2018-03-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) PFAFF, WILLIAM (June 17, 1986). "Despite the Smell of Death, Tories Will Likely Hang On". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif. p. 5.
- "New York Consolidated Laws, Election Law - ELN § 5-304.3 Enrollment; change of enrollment or new enrollment by previously registered voters". findlaw.com. State of New York. December 1, 1985. Archived from the original on August 7, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
A change of enrollment received by the board of elections not later than the twenty-fifth day before the general election shall be deposited in a sealed enrollment box, which shall not be opened until the first Tuesday following such general election. Such change of enrollment shall be then removed and entered as provided in this article.
- "New York Consolidated Laws, Election Law - ELN § 6-120. Designation and nomination; restrictions". findlaw.com. State of New York. Archived from the original on August 7, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
The members of the party committee representing the political subdivision of the office for which a designation or nomination is to be made, unless the rules of the party provide for another committee, in which case the members of such other committee, and except as hereinafter in this subdivision provided with respect to certain offices in the city of New York, may, by a majority vote of those present at such meeting provided a quorum is present, authorize the designation or nomination of a person as candidate for any office who is not enrolled as a member of such party as provided in this section.