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This chapter looks at competition between parties. First, the chapter outlines the ways in which party systems are described and categorized, in terms of the number of parties (in other words, fragmentation) and their ideological position (polarization). The chapter then addresses the theological models that aim to explain party competition. The chapter uses the simple spatial model here which predicts that parties position themselves close to the centre of politics to appeal to the modern voter. It then looks at competition models. These models expect parties to champion issues they ‘own’. The chapter also looks at valence models which focus on competence, leadership traits and other non-party characteristics of candidates and parties. The chapter ends with a discussion of mainstream parties, looking at how they seek to respond to the rise of challenger parties.


11. Backlash  

Gray Radicalism

This chapter analyzes an anti-environmental discourse that can be understood as a profound reaction against environmentalism in its entirety. This anti-environmental “gray radicalism,” especially prominent under the Trump presidency in the United States, entails climate change denial, but is much more than that, drawing on populism, extreme conservatism, nationalism, and (in the US) evangelical Christianity. It is opposed to technological progress that would for example replace coal with renewable energy. This chapter locates gray radicalism in relation to right-wing partisan identity, expands on its differences with Promethean discourse, and details how it can be enmeshed in broader “culture wars.” Because gray radicalism is a matter of fundamental identity for its subscribers, it can be difficult to engage through evidence and argument.