Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 13, issue 1

Riccardo Pelizzo and Salvatore Babones, "The Political Economy of Polarized Pluralism," Party Politics, 13 (January 2007), 53-67.

First Paragraph:
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Sartori's party system typology, not the least because, as Peter Mair recently pointed out, 'there has been very little new thinking on how to classify systems since the seminal work of Sartori' (Mair, 2006: 64). In the words of Wolinetz, the importance of Sartori's taxonomy was not simply the fact that it provided a better way to categorize party systems, it was also, and more importantly, the fact that it provided an explanation for government (in)stability and democratic breakdowns (Wolinetz, 2006). For Sartori it was, in fact, quite obvious that party systems of the polarized pluralist type were unlikely to sustain stable executives and could create the conditions for constitutional breakdowns (Sartori, 1982: 43).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Political polarization
Table 2. Economic indicators
Figure 1. Spain (r = 0.82)
Figure 2. Germany (r = 0.67)
Figure 3. France (r = -0.83)
Figure 4. Italy (r = -0.82)

First Paragraph of Conclusion:
The main purpose of the present article has been to show that polarization may not only reflect structural conditions, as Sartori (1976) suggested, such as the number and depth of political cleavages, but that it may also reflect certain contextual factors, such as fluctuations in macro-economic conditions. The results of the data analysis provide evidence consistent with our claim. In fact, with the exception of the Spanish case, in which polarization is due entirely to structural conditions, the other three cases of polarized pluralism analyzed in the article do show that the polarization of the party system increases as macro-economic conditions worsen

last updated February 2007