Should Extremist Parties Be Banned?

The Greek government’s crackdown on the country’s far-right Golden Dawn party has revived a vexing question that seemed to have disappeared with the Cold War’s end. Is there a place within liberal democracies for apparently anti-democratic parties?

PRINCETON – The Greek government’s crackdown on the country’s far-right Golden Dawn party has revived a vexing question that seemed to have disappeared with the Cold War’s end: Is there a place within liberal democracies for apparently anti-democratic parties?

To be sure, liberal democracies have felt threatened since communism collapsed in 1989 – but mostly by foreign terrorists, who tend not to form political parties and sit in these countries’ parliaments. So, should extremist parties that seek to compete within the democratic framework be outlawed, or would such a restriction on freedom of speech and association itself undermine this framework?

Above all, it is crucial that such decisions be entrusted to non-partisan institutions such as constitutional courts, not other political parties, whose leaders will always be tempted to ban their competitors. Unfortunately, the moves against Golden Dawn are mostly identified with the government’s interests, rather than being perceived as the result of careful, independent judgment.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/JZWZA6K;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.