between political systems that are unstable and those that are stable, disputing that the political system’s polarization and segmentation is dependent on how many relevant parties take part in political battles (Sartori, 1990: p331). The purpose of the current essay is to discuss the cases of the 3rd and 4th French Republics, the Weimar Republic, and post-war Italy in order to determine the validity of Sartori’s polarized pluralism theory. The essay will argue that, although Sartori’s theory is useful in explaining government instability, other factors should be taken into account to explain the political instability experienced in the three case-countries.
Sartori tried to classify the 3rd and 4th French Republics, the Weimar Republic, and post-war Italy under the theory of polarized pluralist party systems, which tends to show the most instability because the party systems are dominated by strongly polarized ideologies. He posited that where there were five parties relevant to the political system with extensive ideological differences between the parties, the possibility of any consensus is ruled out because party politics become broadly fragmented (Sartori & Mair, 2009: p51). Moreover, at least three of the political spectrum poles have occupants, in which the far right and the far left are identified as working towards the undermining of the system’s legitimacy, i.e. as anti-system parties. If there is presence of bipolar opposition and the center of the political spectrum is occupied, centripetal competition is discouraged, which leads to enhanced party-politics polarization and widening of the ideological distances between parties occupying the two poles. In addition, if the centre of the political spectrum is permanently occupied, irresponsible oppositions tend to arise, where the parties that occupy both poles seek to conduct outbidding politics by making powerful promises and appeals they have no intention of fulfilling (Sartori & Mair, 2009: