adversary politics

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S. E. Finer (1915—1993) political scientist


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Term coined by S. E. Finer in his edited book Adversary Politics and Electoral Reform (1975) for the British parliamentary system, which he characterized as ‘a stand‐up fight between two adversaries for the favour of the lookers‐on’. He argued that the Labour and Conservative parties had become locked into sterile confrontation of extremisms, which might be broken by electoral reform, to which he was a recent convert. Supporters of the adversary politics hypothesis point to the debasement of parliamentary debate and Question Time; opponents variously argue that the adversaries were not adversarial on everything (for instance, in their common opposition to electoral reform) and that adversary politics was a temporary pathology.

Subjects: Politics.

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