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Medzihorsky, J., & Lindberg, S. I. (2023). Walking the Talk: How to Identify Anti-Pluralist Parties. Party Politics0(0).


The recent increase of democratic declines around the world – “the third wave of autocratization” – has sparked a new generation of studies on the topic. Scholars tend to agree that the main threat to contemporary democracy arises from democratically elected rulers who gradually erode democratic norms. Is it possible to identify future autocratizers before they win power in elections? Linz (1978) and Levitsky and Ziblatt (2018) suggest that a lacking commitment to democratic norms reveals would-be autocratizers before they reach office. This article argues that the concept of anti-pluralism rather than populism or extreme ideology captures this. We use a new expert-coded data set on virtually all relevant political parties worldwide from 1970 to 2019 (V-Party) to create a new Anti-Pluralism Index (API) to provide the first systematic empirical test of this argument. We find substantial evidence validating that the API and Linz’s litmus-test indicators signal leaders and parties that will derail democracy if and when they come into power.

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.