Militant democracy and the banning of political parties in democratic states: Why some do and why some don't

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This chapter examines contemporary practices of militant democracy in the case of party bans. This focus is pertinent insofar as party bans tend to be seen as the most militant, intolerant, or repressive measure to be deployed against anti-system parties or movements, and as such, the riskiest in terms of effects on democratic quality. After an overview of party ban cases in postwar Europe, the chapter evaluates explanations for why some democracies have banned parties while others have not. More specifically, it focuses on the distinctive experiences of new democracies, party orientations to violence, historical experiences of authoritarianism, the effectiveness of alternatives to party bans, the role of securitization discourses and the dynamics of democratic competition. The advantage of focusing on such explanations for party ban practices is that it permits the analyst to look beyond official rationales for party bans to understand how variation in political context, decision-making rules, political discourses and constellations of actor interests may influence what is ultimately a grave decision to limit access to both political power and the public sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMilitant Democracy : Political science, law and philosophy
EditorsAfshin Ellian, Bastiaan Rijpkema
Number of pages24
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-97003-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-97004-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
SeriesPhilosophy and Politics - Critical Explorations


  • party bans
  • democratization
  • securitization
  • political violence
  • constitutional traditions
  • vetoplayers
  • historical legacies

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