The Age of Political Fragmentation

Issue Date October 2021
Volume 32
Issue 4
Page Numbers 146–59
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The deepest challenge to Western democracies in recent years is “political fragmentation.” This fracturing of political power into so many different parties and groups makes it difficult for democratic governments to deliver effective governance. A force driving this fragmentation is the communications revolution, which poses a more profound challenge to political authority than is generally recognized. Fragmentation reflects popular beliefs that governments are failing to address the major issues of the day. But fragmentation also makes it all the more difficult for those governments to act. Democracies must figure out how to meet this challenge, lest their inability to deliver on the issues that their citizens find most urgent leads to further distrust, alienation, and anger—or worse.

About the Author

Richard H. Pildes is Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at the New York University School of Law.

View all work by Richard H. Pildes