As many readers of this blog know, I have been writing for some time now about the forces that are making democratic politics throughout the West more fragmented and that, as a result, are making it all the more difficult to deliver effective government. Spain is a typical example, and the most recent news from there further confirms this story.
Since it became a modern democracy in the mid-1970s, Spain had effectively been a two-party system. But starting around 2015, that system collapsed, with the major parties hemorrhaging support to a variety of parties, including newly emergent insurgent ones. The result was that Spain had to hold four national elections from 2015-2019 in the effort to find a stable governing majority. After the 2019 elections, it took many months to form a government — which was the first coalitional government in the country’s modern history. Yet that fragile coalition has now collapsed, with Spain’s Prime Minister now dissolving the parliament and calling for new elections in July.
As the NYT reports, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist Worker’s Party was crushed in recent local and regional elections by the conservative Popular Party and the Vox Party, considered further to the right of the conservatives. Vox doubled its vote share compared to the 2019 local elections. This is all a sign of the perpetual dissatisfaction in our era with the performance of democratic governments and the continual search for new alternatives, none of which seem to increase citizen satisfaction all that much.
For a couple of my academic pieces on democracies in the age of fragmentation, see here and here.
Updated Post: The Court hands down opinions on Thursday this week. IF it’s going to dismiss this case, Thursday would be one likely date for an order dismissing the case, given the time that’s elapsed since the latest filings to address this issue. Conversely, if the Court does not dismiss Moore on Thursday, is that a sign it is going ahead to reach the merits? We will already be into June by the time the next opinion day is scheduled.
The original post suggested we could learn the answer tomorrow, when the Court hands down orders. But I’ve been reminded that when the Court dismisses a case after argument, that would come down on a day the Court hands down opinions, not orders.
From Matt Yglesias’ Slow Boring substack. Best link for that I know of is here. Here’s an excerpt:
There’s a construct — “misinformation” — that’s been wielded over the past five years as a kind of weird partisan cudgel and ideological excuse. And it’s unfortunate, because I really do believe that media is an important factor in politics and that in particular, the dynamics of right-wing propaganda media on cable and talk radio are crucial to understanding the world we live in. But beyond that, the general subject of what people know about politics, what they think they know, and how that matters is interesting.
In a democracy, those who govern are accountable to a mass public that overwhelmingly comprises people who don’t think much about politics and policy and who really don’t know much about it. That real-world citizens are not idealized deliberators is a really important aspect of how society functions, and it’s important that everyone who cares about such things try to understand it….
The moral of all these stories is that people are prone to bias-confirmation and groupthink, and the mass public tends not to pay much attention to policy issues, even ones they find interesting enough to march in the streets about.
This is a kind of tragic aspect of the human condition and not a specific failure of your political enemies.
Russell Berman with an intriguing piece in The Atlantic on less-discussed ways in which AI might dramatically lower the cost of campaigns and enable a broader range of candidates to run and compete:
Amid the growing panic, however, a new generation of tech entrepreneurs is selling a more optimistic future for the merger of AI and politics. In their telling, the awesome automating power of AI has the potential to achieve in a few years what decades of attempted campaign-finance reform have failed to do—dramatically reduce the cost of running for election in the United States. With AI’s ability to handle a campaign’s most mundane and time-consuming tasks—think churning out press releases or identifying and targeting supporters—candidates would have less need to hire high-priced consultants. The result could be a more open and accessible democracy, in which small, bare-bones campaigns can compete with well-funded juggernauts.
Martin Kurucz, the founder of a Democratic fundraising company that is betting big on AI, calls the technology “a great equalizer.” “You will see a lot more representation,” he told me, “because people who didn’t have access to running for elected office now will have that. That in and of itself is huge.”
I’ll be in charge of blogging this week, so send your suggested stories to me. Thanks to Guy Charles for holding down the fort last week.
Anticipation is for the closest race in Alberta’s history between the United Conservatives, currently in power, and the New Democratic Party. The Conservatives have governed Alberta for nearly all the past 40 years, other than 2015-2019. Here’s one story.
Via Tierney Sneed
at CNN, comes this cert. petition
before the Supreme Court in No. 22-1138.
Eastman is asking for a Munsingwear vacatur
of a federal district court ruling, which would wipe that case off the books on grounds it… Continue reading
“The California Democrat is surrounded by a large retinue of aides at all times, who tell her how and when to vote, explain what is going on when she is confused, and shield her from the press and public.” Story
… Continue reading
Registration is free and here
. Here’s the description:
The Elections & Voting Information Center (EVIC) at Reed College has conducted a survey of local election officials (LEOs) for the past 4 years that provides local officials with an important… Continue reading
Trump plays by rules afforded no other candidate. He might luck out again with a large field in 2024.”
Will the 2024 Republican Primary be like the 2016 primary? This
story from Politico.
. Paxton is suspended from office. (Thanks to Hugh Brady
for the correction). He now awaits a trial by the state Senate.
fascinating New York Times post-mortem on the Dominion defamation lawsuit against Fox. If your interest is Election Law and Civil Procedure, this is an absolute must-read.
Aaron Navarro has this
story for CBS News. From the article:
Campaign finance experts called the move “unprecedented” and had mixed reactions on if it violated FEC regulations.The transfer of “hard” campaign dollars — money raised under federal fundraising limits… Continue reading
Professors Hellman and Gilbert has this
article, Political Corruption, forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of American Election Law (Eugene Mazo, ed.). The abstract:
This chapter studies political corruption and its many relationships to the law of democracy. It begins with… Continue reading