Why coalition governing can alleviate political polarization

Name of applicant

Ida Hjermitslev


Postdoctoral Fellow


University of Vienna


DKK 1,517,592



Type of grant

Reintegration Fellowships


The project demonstrates the importance of consensual democratic institutions, namely coalition governing, for limiting political polarization among citizens. I ask why some electorates polarize more than others and look towards elite-level coalition formation, and its role in shaping the political identities that citizens polarize around, for answers.


Polarization is an urgent challenge to societies as it erodes democratic norms and trust in government. We know that coalitions impact party perceptions, but the effect on the polarization of voters’ identities and attitudes is unexplored. Understanding how elite-level behavior affect mass-level polarization allow us to assess the health and quality of consensus democracies in years to come.


The project uses cross-national, panel, and experimental survey data. It includes a cross-national comparative study of how coalition formation affects political identities as well as two studies using Denmark as a particularly enlightening case. The new cross-aisle coalition ruling Denmark offers a unique opportunity to study how polarization responds to changing patterns of coalition formation.

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