Democracies in the Age of Fragmentation: Spain’s Coalitional Government Collapses

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.

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Is the Court Going to Dismiss Moore v. Harper This Week?

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.

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“”Misinformation” Isn’t Just on the Right: Progressives, Conservatives, and Moderate Alike All Believe Things that Aren’t True”

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.

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How AI Might Reshape Politics

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.”

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John Eastman Offers Warped View of 2020 Election, the January 6 “incursion into the Capitol,” and His Attempt to Subvert Election, in Supreme Court Brief Seeking to Erase District Court Case Finding He and Trump Likely Participated in a Crime

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