The Dynamics of Polarization and Depolarization: Methodological Considerations and European Evidence
25 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
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: Suggested Citation