The Politics of Emotional Confrontation in New Democracies: The Impact of Economic

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1 Paper prepared for presentation at the panel A Return of Class Conflict? Political Polarization among Party Leaders and Followers in the Wake of the Sovereign Debt Crisis The 24 th IPSA Congress Poznan, Poland July 23-28, 2016 The Politics of Emotional Confrontation in New Democracies: The Impact of Economic Recession and Government Change on the Evaluation of Democratic Performance Han, Sang-Jin Professor Emeritus, Seoul National University, Korea Visiting Professor, Peking University, China Abstract This study examines the role of emotion in politics. Emotion is an important energy of human action in general and politics in particular. Yet the influence of emotion has been largely underevaluated or neglected in the mainstreams of empirical social science as well as normative theories. In this context, this study compares three new democracies (Korea, Chile, and Poland) and two established democracies (Germany and Sweden) in order to reveal how and to what extent emotion works at the basis of the evaluation of the incumbent government by the winner and the loser of the election that resulted in the change in government from 2006/7 to In the case of the two established democracies, no significant change in government took place during that period. In the three new democracies, however, the opposition parties of 2006/2007 became the winner, and the ruling parties of 2006/2007 became the loser. It is natural and has been widely observed that the winner takes premium, so to speak, while the loser makes discount when evaluating the polices and achievements of the government. Premium and discount can be explained as a function of representational commitments of the party to such conventional identities as social class, ideology, and political camp. This paper attempts to grasp the role of emotion in the three new democracies by examining the synchronic and the diachronic gap in such evaluation between the winner and the loser in 2006/2007 or To be more specific, first, the synchronic gap among MPs between the winner and the loser in 2013 is significantly higher than in This has something to do with the trends of economic crisis. Second, the diachronic gap in evaluation between 2006/7 and 2013 reveals that both the winner and the loser moves in the opposite direction in a surprisingly consistent way. This pattern seems to imply more than the conventional explanation in terms of class interests, ideology differences, association with political camps. Furthermore, as it becomes clear in the case of Korea, the diachronic gap among MPs tends to be consistently higher than that among voters. The MP s gap subtracted by the voter s gap may be called surplus. Indeed, the surplus premium taken by the MP winners and the surplus discount by the MP loser turn out to be 1

2 equally significant. This finding calls for an explanation against the reality of the fast increasing politics of emotion today. Negatively affected by the processes of economic globalization and polarization, the popular mass is increasingly swept over by such emotions as anxiety, anger, deprivation, hopelessness, etc. This signals a serious challenge to democratic politics today. More problematic and dangerous than this is the tendency that the political parties and parliamentarians are more divisive than their electoral supporters and thus go ahead of them in aggravating the emotional confrontation for their own political purposes. Here we find a threat to the quality of democracy in general and new democracies in particular undergoing the global trends of economic crisis. The Aim of Presentation I want to explore in this presentation whether it makes sense to say that politics in many countries in the world, particularly in new democracies today, shows the symptoms of excessive emotional confrontation between the winner and the loser in election, to the extent to which it may threaten the role of the political party as an instance of political integration and the quality of democracy as well. There is no reason to view emotion as such from a negative point of view. It is a bias of reason to view emotion as irrational or unpredictable. However rational it may seem, a social phenomenon works as closely bounded by emotional streams. However, emotion may pose a problem if it explicitly contradicts with a rational explanation (motive) of action. In politics, for example, not only the instrumental factors like the party policies (class representation) but also the expressive factors like emotion (threats, danger, risks, anger, etc.) wield considerable influence on politics, especially the electoral campaigns. Which party or candidate one supports in election can be said as based on the social identity of the voters in terms of the shared emotion like threat or anger that affect their life. So there are good reasons for the party to draw attention to this expressive dimension of the electoral campaigns. Yet things may differ if we move into policy evaluation. Even here, of course, the winner-loser gap exists concerning the extent of regime support, regime satisfaction, and trust in government institutions. However, policy evaluation requires a sense of proof, information, experiential support. This is what we mean by deliberative democracy. Ideally speaking, deliberation calls for unbiased information, substantive balancing, respect of diversity, open discourse, and inclusion. Though the reality of democratic politics is still far from this, policy evaluation is expected to vary depending on the concrete policies in question. The winner-loser gap may remain large in some cases but may also become small or even converted in other cases. If this gap turns out to be automatically consistent in evaluating one dozen policy items, suspicion may arise if emotion works in the form of surplus premium or surplus discount. Care must be taken, however, since it is natural for the political party in a democratic country to represent the ideological and socio-economic cleavages in the society. The political party may lose its vigor and energy if not engaged in political struggle decisively enough to get power by sensitizing attention to social cleavages. Yet at the same time the party should not fail to serve as a vehicle of political integration. The political party is premised at once to activate and 2

3 control socio-economic polarization. Hence, confrontation and compromise are two essential aspects the political party in democracy. Granted that, a new question is whether the dual-aspects of the party politics can be well maintained even during a prolonged economic recession. Our experience suggests that this task is not easy to achieve for two reasons. First, it is likely that a bottom-up pressure comes up and intensified since the popular mass will suffer more and more from economic crisis, deprivation, and discrimination. Second, it is difficult for the political party to take a genuine responsibility for this since the root reasons escape the range of their intervention. In this context, it is likely that a populist party or politician emerges with radical slogans with almost empty substances. Research Questions Starting from this background reasoning and understanding, the presentation will draw attention to the three new democracies in South Korea, Chile, and Poland where government change took place from 2006 to In these countries, the progressive party (or alliance) lost the game and the conservative party (or alliance) won the election. The subject of evaluation is the parliamentarians of both the ruling and the opposition parties as well as the electoral supporters of these parties. The question is then how these two MP groups (the winner and the loser) differ in their perception of democratic performance of their countries, and how these perceptions are related to the perception of the electoral supporters. For instance, when they evaluate the reality of democracy, do the members of the ruling party today show a pattern of consistency from the past when they were the opposition party? Figure-1 Who Evaluate? 3

4 Figure-2 Two dimensions of Analysis Perhaps, the key question for empirical research is how to define the role of emotion in policy evaluation. Even further, how can one defines what may be called excessive emotional confrontation by empirical data? One can think of three criteria of comparison in this regard. The first is the comparison between new democracies and established democracies. The second is comparing the synchronic and diachronic gap between the winner and loser. The third is focusing on the surplus premium and surplus discount measured by the degree of the MP s deviation from their electoral supporters. Based on these, it may be possible to link the political trend of emotional confrontation to the increasing tension and conflict stemming from the economic recession. 4

5 Figure-3 Three Criteria of Comparison The basic claims of this presentation is two-fold. First, the new democracies represented by Korea, Chile, and Poland show the symptoms of excessive emotional confrontation between the winner and the loser. Second, this emotional mode of confrontation tends to threaten the quality of democracy and the role of the political party as an instance of political integration. The following steps will be taken to support this claim. 1) How can excessive emotional confrontation be defined and empirically measured? 2) How do the new democracies differ from the established democracies represented by Sweden and Germany in this regard? 3) What are the criteria for sorting out the excessive potion of the emotional-ideological confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties? 4) What is meant by the quality of democracy and how it is threatened by the excessive emotional confrontation? 5) Can this mode of confrontation go well with the role of the political party as an instance of political integration? 5

6 Conceptual Clarification The data used were collected from the seven rapidly changing countries in the world, that is, Korea, Chile, Poland, Turkey, South Africa, Germany, and Sweden. The data include 1) the MP survey in 2006 and 2013, 2) the WVS in 2006 and 2012, and 3) the citizen survey in Korea in 2006, 2010, and This study pays particular attention to the evaluation of government performance by the winner and the loser in the election of each country. More specifically, we used 13 constitutive items of democracy and asked the respondents (MPs and citizens) to evaluate the extent of their necessity for democracy, on the one hand, and the extent of their realization by the incumbent government, on the other. This paper calls the latter democratic performance and deals with it with care. An important historical background is that government change took place in the period from 2006 to 2013 in Korea, Poland, and Chile. The conservative party or coalition won the game in these new democracies. Consequently, the winner takes premium while the loser makes discount when they evaluate democratic performance by the government at the time. This tendency is confirmed in both cases of the MPs and the electoral supporters. The focus of this presentation is to compare the patterns of evaluation by MPs and supporters. Conceptual clarification may be necessary. The terms the winner and the loser are related to the government change in new democracies via the elections from 2006 to In the case of established democracies, no regime change took place. Thus the conventional terms, the ruling and oppositional parties, will be used. In new democracies, however, the opposition party in 2006 became the winner, and the ruling party in 2006 became the loser. In these cases, we will use the terms the winner and the loser. The winner and the lower see the reality from different eyes. In this regard, the synchronic gap refers to the difference between the winner and the loser in 2006 or 2013 concerning their evaluation of democratic performance. The terms like the synchronic MP gap or the synchronic supporter gap suggest who evaluate. The diachronic gap refers to the evaluative difference between 2006 and 2013 by either the winner or the loser. This gap sensitizes attention to how the winner or the loser changes their eyes from 2006 to 2013 when they evaluate democratic performance by the government at the time. The diachronic gap indicates how much premium the winner (MPs and the supporters as well) takes and how much discount the loser makes. Crucial for this study is not the size of synchronic gap but the pattern of diachronic change. The former can be high or low depending on many factors of the country in question. For instance, the synchronic gap in Sweden is very high in both 2006 and This means that the ruling and the opposition parties see the political reality from the perspectives of remarkable difference and they continue to do so over time. In contrast, the synchronic gap in Germany is considerably low. This refers to different political cultures, not something like good or bad. Yet it is possible to examine whether the synchronic gap increases or decreases from 2006 to If it increases, it implies that the political cleavage increases. In contrast, diachronic gap makes sense only when government change takes place. Influenced by this factor, the winner and the loser change remarkably when they evaluate democratic 6

7 performance. The winner takes premium while the loser makes discount. Here we may come up with many potentially significant issues for the quality of democracy. The idea of deliberation, as a distinctive characteristics of democracy, emphasizes that a decision be based on unbiased information, substantive balance, diversity of opinion, and so on. Seen from this perspective, the actual mode of confrontation which is grasped by the conceptual devices of premium and discount may be problematic if it accompanies a tendency of black and white dichotomy. What happens if they act like a runaway horse to the opposite direction, by the winner taking the maximum premium while the loser making equally the maximum discount? Though it is clear that the winner differs from the loser, it may be questionable if they are totally diverging from each other without sharing a common ground of understanding political reality. Data Analysis The analysis of data shows the following major outcomes. First, the synchronic gap among MPs between the winner and the loser in 2013 is significantly higher than that in This is so in all new democratic countries, as can be confirmed in <Table-1>, <Table-2>, and <Table- 3>. Table -1 Comparison of synchronic difference in Korea (Maximum: 100) 2006 synchronic gap 2013 synchronic gap progressive conservative difference progressive conservative difference Subsidies to poor Respect of Human Rights Elite by Election Unemployment compensation Freedom of Opposition to Repression Economic Prosperity Gender Equality Freedom of Regime Critique Job to everybody Equal Opportunity of Education Protection of Minority Rights

8 Table-2 Comparison of Synchronic Difference in Poland (Maximum: 100) 2006 synchronic gap 2013 synchronic gap progressive conservative difference progressive conservative difference Subsidies to poor Respect of Human Rights Elite by Election Unemployment compensation Freedom of Opposition to Repression Economic Prosperity Gender Equality Freedom of Regime Critique Job to everybody Equal Opportunity of Education Protection of Minority Rights Table-3 Comparison of Synchronic Difference in Chile (Maximum: 100) 2006 synchronic gap 2013 synchronic gap progressive conservative difference progressive conservative difference Subsidies to poor Respect of Human Rights Elite by Election Unemployment compensation Freedom of Opposition to Repression Economic Prosperity Gender Equality Freedom of Regime Critique Job to everybody Equal Opportunity of Education Protection of Minority Rights

9 Second, the pattern of the diachronic gap turns out to be systematically consistent. The winner s premium and the loser s discount are not only confirmed as an overall tendency but work with a surprising consistency throughout all items of policy evaluation. The winner s evaluation of democratic performance in 2013 becomes far more positive, compared with their evaluation in 2006 when they were oppositional. In contrast, the loser s evaluation in 2013 becomes far more negative than that in 2006 when they ruled; not only great the diachronic gap between the winner and the loser is but also moves into the entirely opposite direction, as can be seen in <Figure-4>, <Figure-5>, and <Figure-6>. This means that in all of the 13 items of democratic performance the winner sees the current government does far better than the former government while the loser sees the current government completely regressed. Figure-4 Diachronic Gap between 2006 and 2013 in Korea Loser discount Winner premium Subsidies to poor Respect of Human Rights Elite by Election Unemployment compensation Freedom of Opposition to Repression Economic Prosperity Gender Equality Freedom of Regime Critique Job to everybody Equal Opportunity of Education Protection of Minority Rights Figure-5 Diachronic Gap between 2006 and 2013 in Poland Loser discount Winner premium Subsidies to poor Respect of Human Rights Elite by Election Unemployment compensation Freedom of Opposition to Repression Economic Prosperity Gender Equality Freedom of Regime Critique Job to everybody Equal Opportunity of Education Protection of Minority Rights

10 Figure-6 Diachronic Gap between 2006 and 2013 in Chile Loser discount Winner premium Subsidies to poor Respect of Human Rights Elite by Election Unemployment compensation Freedom of Opposition to Repression Economic Prosperity Gender Equality Freedom of Regime Critique Job to everybody Equal Opportunity of Education Protection of Minority Rights Third, the diachronic gap of MPs is consistently higher than that of supporters in the case of Korea where a nation-wide survey research with the same questionnaires was conducted in It must be noted that <Figure-4> shows only the Korean analysis. It is an open question if the similar trend can be confirmed in Poland and Chile. In Korea, the premium of the MP winner is significantly higher than that of their electoral supporters. Likewise, the discount of the MP loser is also significantly higher than that of their supporters. The analysis shows that the surplus premium taken by the MP winners and the surplus discount by the MP loser are equally significant. Premium and discount vary depending on the policy items but the average has turned out to be about the same. This means that the MP winner is deviated from their supporters as much as the MP loser is so, though the direction is opposite. Technically, the space with dark yellow in <Figure-7> may refer to surplus gap. 10

11 Figure-7 The Synchronic Gap between MPs and Electoral Supporters in 2013 in Korea 50.0 Surplus gap 40.0 MP gap Supporter 0.0 Finally, an attempt has been made to compare the winner s premium (the loser s discount as well) with the diachronic change of the population at large. The latter can be called the general will of the people (Volonte Generale). How is the winner s premium and the loser s discount related to the general will of the people? The analysis of the Korean data shows that the general will moves in the negative evaluation from 2006 to In contrast to this, the winner s premium moves in the opposite direction consistently while the loser s discount turns out far greater in the same direction than Volonte Generale. 11

12 Figure-8 The Diachronic Gap between MPs and the population from in Korea Diachronic gap of the whole population MP Winner s diachronic gap MP loser s diachronic gap; Freedom of the press Freedom of assembly No fear of random arrest Right to suffrage without pressure Interpretation and Discussion The political party in a democratic country represents the ideological and socio-economic cleavages in the society. It is natural for the parties to be confrontational, therefore. The political parties are aimed at seizing state power through legitimate procedures. The political party in democracy, however, operates under the normative premise that it works not only to divide, but also ultimately to integrate the divided people into the common goal of living peacefully. The political party may lose its vigor and energy if not engaged in political struggle decisively to get power by mobilizing public attention to its own platforms. Yet it may be a problem if it fails to serve as a vehicle for political integration. The political party is premised to activate and overcome social cleavages for the common goal of coexistence. Hence, confrontation and compromise are two essential performances of the political party in democracy. New democracies are understood to be moving forward from the stage of democratic transition through consolidation to an advanced stage of deliberative democracy. The quality of democracy has diverse meanings, but this paper pays attention only to the deliberative quality of democracy. It is exactly in this context that this paper raises the issue of emotional confrontation which threatens the deliberative quality of democracy. To be blunt, where does the threat to the quality of democracy come from in new democracies? Threat comes from neither the size of the synchronic gap between the ruling and the oppositional parties nor the winner s premium or the loser s discount as such. Plain and simple, these differences are natural to the party politics in democracy. How can we then define emotional confrontation and measure the excessive degree of such confrontation? Three criteria can be suggested. The first is the comparison between new democracies and established democracies. It should be remembered that there was no government change in Sweden and Germany from 2006 to It makes a lot of differences from new democracies 12

13 in which government change took place. Yet the analysis of data shows that in Sweden and Germany there was found no such a sharp and consistent divergence as in Korea, Poland, and Chile between the winner and the loser in terms of their evaluation of democratic performance from 2006 to As a matter of fact, the diachronic gap of the two blocs often moves into the same direction, either positive or negative, depending on the items at hand. Figure-9 Premium and Discount in Sweden Loser Winner Subsidies to poor Respect of Human Rights Elite by Election Unemployment compensation Freedom of Opposition to Repression Economic Prosperity Gender Equality Freedom of Regime Critique One man One Vote Basic Goods to all Job to everybody Equal Opportunity of Education Protection of Minority Rights Figure-10 Premium and Discount in Germany Loser Winner Subsidies to poor Respect of Human Rights Elite by Election Unemployment compensation Freedom of Opposition to Repression Economic Prosperity Gender Equality Freedom of Regime Critique One man One Vote Basic Goods to all Job to everybody Equal Opportunity of Education Protection of Minority Rights

14 The ruling and the opposition blocs are not as totally opposed to each other as in Korea, Poland, and Chile. This implies the existence of consensual ground of policy evaluation relatively free from emotional confrontation. The ruling and opposition blocs may converge or diverge depending on the policies at hand. It should be made clear that the two blocs are very different in terms of their ideologies as documented by the high synchronic gap in 2006 and 2013 (particularly in Sweden). This gap continues over time. But there is no such a sharp diachronic gap between the winner s premium and the loser s discount as in new democracies. Far from a black-and-white dichotomy, deliberation works in established democracies whereas it is lacking in new democracy. The second criteria is related to what I have called the surplus premium and discount. Seen from the classical concept of the party as representation, the surplus gap whether it is premium or discount can be defined as the portion of excess in the emotional (ideological as well) mode of confrontation between the winner and the loser. The Korean data shows no significant difference between the winner and the loser in terms of the excessive portion of emotional confrontation, measured by the degree of their deviation from their respective supporters. They are equally responsible, so to speak, for the threat to the quality of democracy. The third criteria is to compare MPs not with their electoral supporters, but with the general will (Volonte Generale) of the people at large. The Korea data shows clearly that the winner s premium is in contradiction with the direction of the general will of the people. Concluding Remarks Based on the analysis and interpretation above, it can be asked whether the surplus gap in the form of either premium or discount can be understood as an indicator of the excessive emotional confrontation. This presentation contends that the surplus gap can be conceptualized as signaling the excessive emotional mode of confrontation, driven by a dichotomy of good and bad, deeply penetrated in party politics in new democracies today. However, given the difficulty to measure the impact of emotion by empirical index, this presentation may be nothing better than being initially explorative. Yet question should be raised: what does it mean that the diachronic gap between the winner and the loser (between the ruling and the opposition parties) is significantly and consistently higher than the gap of their respective electoral supporters? It means that the political parties, whether ruling or oppositional, tend to be more divisive than their supporters. They increase the political cleavages in the society for their own interests rather than mitigating conflicts and integrating people via deliberative politics. The excessive mode of emotional confrontation in new democracies can be assumed to be genetically linked to great economic recession today. For instance, the fact that the gap between the ruling and opposition parties in 2013 becomes significantly higher than the gap in 2006 reflects the increasing tension and conflict in the society. This presentation calls for a further reflection and analysis about the consequences of economic crisis on social life and politics in 14

15 new democracies as well as the meaning and conditions for deliberative democracy. 15

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