Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Many scholars speculate about the political implications of Internet proliferation. The Internet might, for example, open new channels of communication, which should benefit ideologically extreme and electorally small parties. On the other hand, the Internet might push party systems toward normalization, ultimately reinforcing the extant dominance of incumbent parties. We draw on data from 205 small and extreme parties in 35 countries and focus on both party- and system-level outcomes to investigate some of the most pressing research questions from this debate. We find that where party systems were previously concentrated or restrictive, Internet proliferation has no effect on votes for small and extreme parties. By contrast, in more permissive settings, Internet proliferation has had the smallbut measurableeffect of driving up votes for these parties. At the level of the party system as a whole, however, we find little evidence that Internet proliferation increases either polarization or fragmentation.
- Political Parties
- Electoral Systems