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Photo: “New York Stock Exchange 20170311“, by Suicasmo, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Katz, Richard S. “If the Cure for the Ills of Democracy Is More Democracy, Might the Cure Be Worse than the Disease?.” Scandinavian Political Studies, September 14, 2021.


Declining turnout, declining party membership, declining aggregate vote for mainstream parties and increasing vote for anti-party-system parties all suggest a crisis of liberal party democracy. One suggested cure for the crisis of party democracy is more democracy within parties. But increased intraparty democracy, and increased use of instruments of direct democracy, such as recall, have their own potential costs. Following the example of de Tocqueville in looking to the United States, where intraparty democracy has a longer and deeper history, for lessons and warnings that might be applicable to Europe, this article points to polarization, alienation, intransigence, and decreased responsibility of political leaders – all feeding the anti-party-system narrative – as suggesting that the cure of more democracy may indeed be worse than the disease.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.