Communication à un colloque
|Our democracies have been experiencing a sharp increase in affective polarization in the last decades, impacting their stability via various channels. It can lead to emotional reactivity, dissatisfaction with democracy, lack of cooperation, misperception of political competition, etc. Yet, the literature still needs to examine a key channel through which polarization can undermine the political system: intra-party dynamics. Studies that attempt to detect and measure polarization within parties are limited, and the topic is often merely reduced to factionalism. Yet, intra-party dynamics are known to substantially shape representative and democratic processes through the way they carve parties’ organizational, ideological or personnel dimensions. Interestingly, parties are increasingly led to thoroughly review the political offer they put on the market since the decrease of their legitimacy in public opinion. But achieving party innovations designed to counter that trend requires a consensus among party elites and alignment with citizens' preferences. The literature has already identified important organizational and psychological barriers to party reforms. But no one has questioned the role of intra-party affective polarization as an additional barrier so far and, by extension, as a potential driver of polarization at the political system level. This paper hence proposes investigating the scale of affective polarization within parties and how it relates to party reforms. Preliminary hypotheses suggest that the symbolic and realistic threat perceived by supporters can generate intergroup hostility and, in turn, the heterogenization of supporters’ attitudes toward their party. The results from a panel survey conducted in the UK, US, and South Africa will not only inform the literature on affective polarization and democratic representation but also extend our understanding of the drivers of party reform.