Tepe, Sultan. “The Perils of Polarization and Religious Parties: The Democratic Challenges of Political Fragmentation in Israel and Turkey.” Democratization 20.5 (2013): 831-56.
With their “deeply divided societies”, distinctive electoral rules and pivotal religious parties, Israeli and Turkish politics offer crucial cases to probe into “polarization” processes and the ways in which religious parties play a role in them. Using a large sample of public opinion and experimental survey data, the analysis shows how polarization can be marked by some contravening trends. Despite declining social trust, religious party supporters do not denounce any institutions categorically; yet disregard some opposing parties as viable political alternatives. The political positions of religious partisans differ from their party leadership. Supporters assign different levels of significance to polarizing issues and carry the potential of forming issue-based coalitions across different ideological groups. Although they acquire news and political information from different venues, most partisans tend to process factual information through partisan lenses, reinforcing partisan ideological commitments. While religious party supporters increasingly reject the existing markers of politics and show signs of political apathy, they do not withdraw from politics. With their multifaceted commitments, religious party supporters do not fall into mutually exclusive political groups. Given the tendency of the political elite to exacerbate divisions for political expediency, it is ultimately the ability of individuals to engage in politics beyond the confines of party politics that presents an escape from these polarization traps.