The French Socialists and British Labour consider intra-party democracy as a central tenet of their philosophies. It is a core value that orientates their political attitudes and defines their identity. Traditionally, they have privileged a particular type of decision-making, based on the sovereignty of the party conference. However, at the beginning of the 1990s, these meetings projected a damaging image of division and chaos. Confronted with the intense scrutiny of their internal debates by the media, the two parties had to find a better balance between their culture and practices, and the need to promote an image of unity and efficiency. They introduced a number of reforms that, they claim, have expanded the possibilities for individual members to participate while at the same time giving the two leaderships a firmer grip on decision-making. Based on qualitative research conducted over many years, this paper explores the parties' new attitudes to internal democracy and analyses the process of power redistribution within the organizations.