This article proposes two models that address the neglected relationship between protests, government countermovement strategies, and democratic politics. By contrasting centrifugal and centripetal dynamics triggered by government responses to mass protest, the models theorize the link between government counterframes and opposition politics in democracies. The strategies deployed by the Argentine and Brazilian governments during the cycle of mass protests that erupted in these countries in 2012–13 are used in illustration. The counterframing models developed in this article shed new light on the role of government responses in the dynamics of contentious politics, with potential for application to other contentious episodes and political contexts.

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