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Opposition (politics)

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Stand in Opposition (imprints in front of Old City Hall, Boston)

In politics, the opposition comprises one or more political parties or other organized groups that are opposed, primarily ideologically, to the government (or, in American English, the administration), party or group in political control of a city, region, state, country or other political body. The degree of opposition varies according to political conditions. For example, in authoritarian and democratic systems, opposition may be respectively repressed or desired.[1] Members of an opposition generally serve as antagonists to the other parties.[2]

Scholarship focusing on opposition politics did not become popular or sophisticated until the mid-20th century.[3] Recent studies have found that popular unrest regarding the economy and quality of life can be used by political opposition to mobilize and to demand change. Scholars have debated whether political opposition can benefit from political instability and economic crises, while some conclude the opposite. Case studies in Jordan align with mainstream thought in that political opposition can benefit from instability, while case studies in Morocco display a lack of oppositional mobilization in response to instability. In the Jordan case study, scholars reference opposition increasingly challenge those in power as political and economic instability proliferated wereas the opposition in Morocco did not mobilize on the instability.[4]

Furthermore, research on opposition politics in South Asia has helped inform researchers on possibilities of democratic renewal post-backsliding as well as possibilities of political violence.[5] Despite there being aggressive and powerful regimes in place in various South Asian countries, the opposition still poses a powerful counter-party. For example, members of opposition have made their way into office in Nepal and Sri Lanka has been hosting elections in regions known to previously not hold them. In these cases, the presence of opposition has brought about positive democratic change.[5]

Political opposition through social media communication[edit]

As social media has become a larger part of society and culture around the world, so too has online political opposition. Online communication as a whole has also heightened the spread of clearer political opposition. Various factors like censorship, selective censoring, polarization, and echo chambers have changed the way that political opposition presents itself.[6] Many Americans also believe that Social Media sites censor political viewpoints especially when they contradict the status quo.[7]

Controlled opposition[edit]

Controlled opposition is the use of black propaganda and saboteurs who claim to oppose a particular faction but are in fact working for the faction.

One alleged example is the Serbian Party Oathkeepers (SSZ), led under their president Milica Đurđević Stamenkovski, who claim to be opposed to the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blondel, J (1997). "Political opposition in the contemporary world". Government and Opposition. 32 (4): 462–486. doi:10.1111/j.1477-7053.1997.tb00441.x. S2CID 145343918. Archived from the original on 2013-01-05.
  2. ^ Kersell, John E. (1966). "Review of Political Oppositions in Western Democracies". International Journal. 21 (4): 535–536. doi:10.2307/40184478. ISSN 0020-7020. JSTOR 40184478.
  3. ^ Kersell, John E. (1966). "Review of Political Oppositions in Western Democracies". International Journal. 21 (4): 535–536. doi:10.2307/40184478. ISSN 0020-7020. JSTOR 40184478.
  4. ^ Lust-Okar, Ellen (2004). "Divided They Rule: The Management and Manipulation of Political Opposition". Comparative Politics. 36 (2): 159–179. doi:10.2307/4150141. ISSN 0010-4159. JSTOR 4150141.
  5. ^ a b Staniland and Vaishnav, Paul and Milan (January 24, 2023). "The State of Opposition in South Asia".
  6. ^ Ashokkumar, Ashwini; Talaifar, Sanaz; Fraser, William T.; Landabur, Rodrigo; Buhrmester, Michael; Gómez, Ángel; Paredes, Borja; Swann, William B. (November 2020). "Censoring political opposition online: Who does it and why". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 91: 104031. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2020.104031. PMC 7415017. PMID 32834107.
  7. ^ Nadeem, Reem (2020-08-19). "Most Americans Think Social Media Sites Censor Political Viewpoints". Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Retrieved 2023-03-06.