In an essay in the new edition of the @JoDemocracy on democratic dysfunctionality in Europe, Sheri Berman and I argue that in Europe, unlike the United States, the problem is not polarization but convergence. 1/6
Based on the American experience, much recent discussion has focused on polarization. But in Europe it is not so much polarization and partisanship that have led to democratic decay and the rise of populism but party convergence and diminishing partisanship. 2/6
We focus on Germany, which is the clearest and most consequential example of this dynamic. The convergence between the CDU and SPD – embodied by Merkel and the series of three grand coalitions in the last four electoral periods that she has led – has produced the AfD. 3/6
By comparing Europe and the United States, we show that convergence and polarization can both be dangerous for democracy. Whether either does so depends on the nature of polarization and convergence and the context within which they occur. 4/6
Whether polarization is problematic depends not just on the extent of polarization but also the issues on which polarization focuses. Polarization over economic issues is much less problematic than over toxic cultural issues. 5/6
Whether convergence is problematic depends on the structure of voter preferences. If parties move away from voter preferences, a “representation gap” emerges, which in turns creates a context in which extremist parties can thrive. 6/6

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More from @hanskundnani

26 Mar 20
Here's what I said on the @TPpodcast_ yesterday. The short version is that we are still at the early stage of this crisis and we should be cautious about drawing conclusions about the international political consequences of it. 1/16
It seems to me that the challenge in thinking about the coronavirus is that it is a health crisis, which will have economic consequences and domestic and international political consequences, which may in turn feed back into the health crisis. 2/16
It is already possible to say something about the economic consequences - as @adam_tooze and others have done. But it is more difficult to say anything meaningful about the possible political consequences – though of course we have to begin to think about them. 3/16
Read 16 tweets
10 Mar 19
The more I think about the idea of “European values” after discussing it on a panel at #BelvedereForum19 last week, the less it seems to me that such a thing exists in any meaningful sense. 1/14
Firstly, the whole idea of “European values” (or “Asian values”) seems to me to be somewhat Huntingtonian – it suggests the fault lines in international politics are cultural, i.e. a “clash of civlisations”, though this doesn’t seem to occur to “pro-Europeans”. 2/14
That aside, it’s really not clear to me what these “European values” are. In order for the idea to be meaningful, they would have to be values that (a) Europeans share and (b) are distinct from the values held by people from other parts of the world. 3/14
Read 14 tweets

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