Mainstream Parties in Crisis: Overcoming Polarization

Issue Date January 2021
Volume 32
Issue 1
Page Numbers 6-21
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Around the world, democracy is being undermined by elected leaders using polarizing political strategies that divide societies into mutually distrustful camps. The logic of polarization creates incentives for political leaders and voters alike to sacrifice democratic principles rather than risk their side losing power, and it changes the capacity of institutions designed to manage political conflict and sustain democracy. Drawing lessons from experiences around the world, we propose strategies for oppositions to depolarize or repolarize around democracy-building agendas. We further analyze the challenges of “the day after” polarizing incumbents are removed, and how strategic choices to emphasize long-term collective interests over short-term partisan interests can begin to shift the vicious cycle to a virtuous one.