The Dynamics of Polarization and Depolarization: Methodological Considerations and European Evidence

25 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2014

See all articles by Andrea Nuesser

Andrea Nuesser

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Political Science

Richard Johnston

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Political Science

Marc A Bodet

University of British Columbia - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

We conduct a study of polarization and depolarization in Europe that is both comprehensive and attentive to identification of mechanisms. We begin by mapping the aggregate course of polarization/depolarization in both party systems and electorates of consolidated European democracies from 1973 to 2012. This includes investigation of the relative contribution of economic and social sub-dimensions. Then we move to the question, who leads whom? We conclude with two special cases where exogenous electoral-system change occurred, Italy after 1993 and France in the 1980s. Although some of the findings are inconclusive, this much is clear: the dominant feature on the European landscape is not polarization but its opposite. This is true for both parties and voters. What remains obscure is the mechanism behind this phenomenon.

Suggested Citation

Nuesser, Andrea and Johnston, Richard and Bodet, Marc A, The Dynamics of Polarization and Depolarization: Methodological Considerations and European Evidence (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2452108

Andrea Nuesser (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Political Science ( email )

C425 - 1866 Main Mall
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z1
Canada

Richard Johnston

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Vancouver, V6T 1Z1
Canada

Marc A Bodet

University of British Columbia - Department of Political Science ( email )

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

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