When Polarization Trumps Civic Virtue: Partisan Conflict and the Subversion of Democracy by Incumbents

  title={When Polarization Trumps Civic Virtue: Partisan Conflict and the Subversion of Democracy by Incumbents},
  author={Milan W. Svolik},
  journal={Political Behavior: Voting \& Public Opinion eJournal},
  • Milan W. Svolik
  • Published 3 September 2018
  • Political Science
  • Political Behavior: Voting & Public Opinion eJournal
We propose an explanation for the most prevalent form of democratic breakdown after the Cold War: the subversion of democracy by incumbents. In both democratization research and democracy promotion practice, the public is assumed to serve as a check on incumbents' temptations to subvert democracy. We explain why this check fails in polarized societies. When polarization is high, voters have a strong preference for their favorite candidate, which makes it costly for them to punish an incumbent… 
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