Control over the Republican Party has slipped away from the “old boys.” The sheer number of candidates, currently at 17, shows the inner disunity.

A new phase in the U.S. primary race has begun with the first televised debate of Republican candidates. The campaign, which has so far happened far from the big cities, in small states like New Hampshire and Iowa, is now coming to the national level. The candidates are getting a public face; the cards in the party are being reshuffled.

A debate is beginning about who will have the say in the future: Will it be the radicals, who have grown strong with the tea party, or the centrists, who indeed continue to hold the top positions in the organization but by no means have been setting the tone?

The inflated number of 17 candidates alone is a sign of the loss of control by the old, high-ranking party officials. In addition, the tone among the Republicans has long since become sharp. The radicals are not only practicing their rebellion against Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, but [are protesting] just as intensely against the establishment of their own party. Ted Cruz, for example, has called the head of the Senate a “liar.” Rand Paul also speaks out against the policies of his party, night after night.

The Republican Party is in a paradoxical situation. They have the majority in both houses of Congress and have positioned governors in 31 of the 50 states. However, this doesn’t mean that a Republican candidate will win the race: Conflicts with a potentially explosive effect smolder within the party.