Democratic partisanship: From theoretical ideal to empirical standard
by L.E. Herman, Sciences Po
In recent years, there has been a renewed interest for political parties and partisanship in normative democratic theory. A growing number of scholars posit partisanship as a fundamentally democratic practice and develop a model of what partisans can do at their best to contribute to liberal democracy. However, the standards the literature puts forth remain insufficiently specified to serve as empirical benchmarks. This article serves as a bridge between this theoretical literature and party studies by offering a theoretical framework within which to empirically evaluate the democratic merits of partisan discourses. More specifically, it establishes a series of indicators for assessing the extent to which partisan discourse displays two main qualities: cohesiveness and respect for political pluralism. The paper then discusses the implications of using this theoretical framework as a basis for empirical studies, and shows how the model can thereby benefit both political scientists and theorists.