Nasty Politics: The Whys and the Wherefores in Democracy
Waqas Farooq Kuttay
NASTY POLITICS: THE LOGIC OF INSULTS, THREATS, & INCITEMENT by By Thomas Zeitzoff Oxford University Press, New York, 2023, 314 pp., INR 1100.00
June 2024, volume 48, No 6

The timing of the book’s publication is appropriate given the uptick in nasty politics and divisive discourse in many so-called liberal democracies. It is an invaluable addition to the works on the field of nasty politics and political communication. It addresses the intriguing subject of why politicians participate in nasty politics and how the public responds to them. Although it’s often believed that voters detest nasty politics, yet they elect legislators and representatives who engage in such behaviour. Nasty politics can take many different forms, from straightforward name-calling and insults to riskier behaviours like inciting, intimidating and engaging in actual violence directed towards a specific target, usually political rivals. The author has classified nasty politics into six different types depending on how threatening and close it is to actual violence. This escalating model has been named as ‘staircase model of nasty politics’ (p. 6). After briefly reviewing prior research in the field of nasty politics, the author goes on to pose significant queries such as why politicians use nasty politics when the public detests it, and what consequences may result from it.

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