Democratic Dilemmas: Why democracies ban political parties, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Democratic Dilemmas

Why democracies ban political parties, 1st Edition

By Angela K Bourne


280 pages | 10 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138898011
pub: 2018-07-26
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315708836
pub: 2018-07-11
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This book examines how democratic communities resolve dilemmas posed by anti-system parties or, more specifically, the question of why democracies take the grave decision to ban political parties. On the one hand, party bans may ‘protect’ democracies, usually from groups deemed to undermine the democratic system or its core  values, territorial integrity or state security. At the same time, banning parties challenges foundational democratic commitments to political pluralism, tolerance and rights to free speech and association. The book probes the deliberative processes, discursive strategies and power politics employed when democratic communities negotiate this dilemma. It examines discourses of securitization and desecuritization, preferences of veto-players, anti-system party orientations to violence, electoral systems and the cordon sanitaire as alternatives to party bans, and incentives for mainstream parties to cooperate, rather than ban, parties to achieve office and policy goals. It does so with reference to case studies of party bans, legalizations and failed ban cases in Spain (Herri Batasuna and successors), the United Kingdom (Sinn Féin and Republican Clubs) and Germany (Socialist Reich Party and National Democratic Party of  Germany).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Pluralism, Tolerance and the Proscription of Political Parties

Chapter 1: Theory and Research Design: From ‘militant democracy’ to security discourse, institutions and democratic competition

Chapter 2: Ban Regimes and banned parties in Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany

Chapter 3: Herri Batasuna and its successors: From ‘Terrorist Threat’ to Carrier of a ‘Copernican Shift’ from Violence

Chapter 4: Sinn Féinand Republican Clubs: From terrorist pariah to republicanism’s pathway out of violence

Chapter 5: The Socialist Reich Party and National Democratic Party of Germany: From ‘militant democracy’ to declining anti-system party threats

Chapter 6: Electoral Systems as an alternative to party bans

Chapter 7: Party bans and government formation


About the Author

Angela K. Bourne is an associate professor at the University of Roskilde, Denmark

About the Series

Extremism and Democracy

This series covers academic studies within the broad fields of ‘extremism’ and ‘democracy’, with volumes focusing on adjacent concepts such as populism, radicalism, and ideological/religious fundamentalism. These topics have been considered largely in isolation by scholars interested in the study of political parties, elections, social movements, activism, and radicalisation in democratic settings. A key focus of the series, therefore, is the (inter-)relation between extremism, radicalism, populism, fundamentalism, and democracy. Since its establishment in 1999, the series has encompassed both influential contributions to the discipline and informative accounts for public debate. Works will seek to problematise the role of extremism, broadly defined, within an ever-globalising world, and/or the way social and political actors can respond to these challenges without undermining democratic credentials.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Comparative
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / General