The Power of Opposition

Book project
“The Power of Opposition. The Influence of Legislative Organization on Democratic Consolidation”


Democratic elections normally not only lead to the formation of a government but also result in an opposition. In this logic, a democratic election is as much about winning as it is about losing. Despite this important role of opposition players in democratic regimes, the literature has mostly neglected oppositions and their role in democracies. However, especially the consent of losers of elections to democratic rules is of crucial importance for the functioning and the survival of every democratic system. Recent developments in well-established democracies point to increasing support of populist extremist parties, protest votes or anti-democratic opinions. For the survival and stability of democratic regimes, the most essential question is why dissatisfaction with the way democracy works occurs in the first place. This book brings oppositions into focus as crucial actors of the democratic decision-making process and focuses on the effect of these institutions on losing. In a first part the book develops a theoretical argument why and how specific parliamentary organization influences public opinion about democracy of both winners and losers of democratic elections alike. In a second part, the book presents novel data of policy-making power of opposition players across a wide range of democracies in all regions of the world. Using multi-level regression analyses, the book presents analyses of the influence of specific parliamentary organization on public opinion about democracy as well as satisfaction with the democratic regime and the government more specifically.