Defending democracy: The concentric containment of political extremism

Stefan Rummens*, K. Abts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this article we develop a concentric containment policy for dealing with political extremism starting from the deliberative model of democracy. This model of democracy is particularly well suited because it overcomes the traditional opposition between procedural and substantive views of democracy. On the procedural side, deliberative democracy emphasises the importance of tracking all the relevant concerns of citizens in the public sphere, whereas, on the substantive side, it stresses the need for an adequate filtering which guarantees the compatibility of actual policies with the core values of liberty and equality. The twofold requirement of tracking and filtering translates into a guideline of decreasing tolerance towards extremist organisations as they approach the centres of formal decision-making power. We argue that the resulting containment policy, which listens to extremist voters and simultaneously puts unremitting civilising pressure on extremist parties, is not only desirable from a normative point of view; as shown by the empirical findings concerning the successes and failures of actual containment strategies, the twofold concentric approach, including, if necessary, a cordon sanitaire around the extremist party, might also turn out to be the most effective one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-665
JournalPolitical Studies
Volume58
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • MILITANT DEMOCRACY
  • RADICAL RIGHT
  • PARTIES
  • GERMANY
  • SUCCESS
  • FRANCE

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