Content and Discourse Analysis

Online Lecture at American Space, Almaty, 2nd April 2018

Content and discourse analysis belong to the standard toolbox of qualitative research in the social sciences. They enable scholars to analyze the structures and practices of public communication. Rooted in the positivist epistemological tradition, qualitative content analysis is aimed at the systematic mapping and classification of textual data. Researchers formulate hypotheses and construct a coding frame of categories to structure the data and detect underlying patterns or trends. In contrast, discourse analysis is embedded in the constructivist and hermeneutic traditions of the social sciences. The key aim of this method is to interpret the implicit meaning of discourse fragments and situate them in the context of larger frames, discourses or narratives. read more

Illiberal Drift and Proliferation

A comparative study on the state of democracy and market economy in East-Central and Southeast Europe

In recent years, the illiberal tendencies characteristic of several East-Central and Southeast European countries have taken their toll on nearly all segments of society, from opposition parties to parliaments and judiciaries, to oversight institutions, local and regional self-governing administrative organs, the media, NGOs, the private sector and minority groups as well. This process can best be described as “illiberal drift,” because key democratic institutions – free and competitive elections, political participation rights and individual liberties, separation of powers and rule of law – are not abolished or fundamentally questioned. Rather these institutions are, over time, re-interpreted and subject to changes that pull them increasingly further away from the understanding that led the democratization processes of the 1990s and the enlargement of the EU in the 2000s. In recent years, the dismantling and erosion processes in Hungary and Poland have raised particular international attention. However, illiberal thinking and acting have meanwhile proliferated to numerous states of East-Central and Southeast Europe. read more

Eastern Partnership Index 2018 Update

On 25 January 2018, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum published the fifth edition of the Eastern Partnership Index. The Index is a set of individual and composite indicators which measure the extent to which the six Eastern European neighbour countries of the European Union have established sustainable democratic institutions and made progress towards closer integration with the EU.

In the methodology suggested by me, “integration” is conceived as a core and multi-dimensional concept that consists of converging norms, growing economic exchange, deeper transnational networks linking up societies, and more frequent contacts between people. This broad notion of integration implies that EU membership or association may be aims, stages or final states of the integration process. However, it is not limited to a measure of harmonisation with EU norms and standards, but also reflects actual societal, economic and political change. The levels of contractual relations between the Eastern Partnership states and the EU are viewed as elements of a much broader process that is, as a whole, not driven or controlled solely by governments and intergovernmental negotiations. read more

Wirtschafts- und Gesellschaftsordnungen

in: Politik und Wirtschaft: Ein integratives Kompendium, hrsg. v. K. Mause, Ch. Müller u. K. Schubert u. Springer-Verlag 2018, 89-113; Ko-Autor: J. Zweynert

Abstract

Die Analyse der Zusammenhänge zwischen wirtschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Ordnung hat in Politik- und Wirtschaftswissenschaft nicht nur eine lange Tradition, sondern erlebt derzeit auch eine lebhafte Renaissance. Das vorliegende Kapitel gibt einen Überblick über die früheren und heutigen Beiträge zu dieser Thematik. Der Schwerpunkt liegt dabei auf Forschungen an der Schnittstelle von Wirtschafts- und Politikwissenschaft. Darüber hinausgehend bemühen wir uns, eine Erklärung dafür zu finden, warum das Interesse an dem hier behandelten Thema im historischen Zeitablauf auffälligen Schwankungen unterliegt. Unsere diesbezügliche These lautet: Immer dann, wenn das Verhältnis von politischem und ökonomischem System dynamischen Veränderungen unterliegt, steigt das Interesse am Zusammenhang zwischen Wirtschafts- und Gesellschaftsordnungen; immer dann, wenn das Verhältnis der beiden gesellschaftlichen Subsysteme relativ stabil ist, beschäftigen sich Politikwissenschaftler und Ökonomen eher damit, was innerhalb „ihres“ jeweiligen Systems vor sich geht. read more

Challenges to Strategic Government

A case study of Montenegro, presentation at the Transylvanian International Conference in Public Administration, Cluj-Napoca, 2 November 2017

Cluj-Napoca panorama

The European Union encourages and expects its prospective new member states to establish systems of medium-term strategic planning. A meaningful strategic planning process that involves informed choices of priorities and changing existing practices of policymaking is, however, difficult to institutionalize. The chapter sequence of EU accession negotiations pre-defines a policy agenda, leaving little scope for endogenously determined policy priorities. Commitments taken in cooperations with other external donors / actors require tailored strategic planning activities that tend to occur in parallel, emerging from line ministries and usually without prior coordination between departments. Existing routines of planning and budgeting need to be reorganized and adapted which also implies redefining the roles played by coordinating institutions. Ministers and their political advisors need to be convinced and familiarized with the new planning process, which is often associated with changing institutional culture. read more

Crisis Trajectories and Patterns of Resilience in East-Central and Southeast Europe

Presentation at the Conference “Disintegration and integration in East-Central Europe“, Faculty of European Studies, Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca, 26-27 October 2017

Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca

The subsequent economic and refugee crises have questioned the promise of prosperity and security associated with European integration. Governments in East-Central and Southeast Europe struggled to bridge between the diverging policy expectations of voters on the one hand, international economic and political actors on the other. The weakened credibility of mainstream political parties provided opportunities for populist and anti-establishment mobilization. While these crisis-induced influences have been similar in all countries of the region, the extent to which populist challengers have been able to win elections and implement their preferred policy preferences has varied significantly across countries. read more

Assessing the Fundamentals of EU Accession

A civil society monitoring for Montenegro

Andrija Pejović, Minister of European Affairs (right), and Dragan Koprivica (Center for Democratic Transition) during the presentation of the reports

In 2015, the European Union redesigned its enlargement policy to focus on the rule of law, public administration and civic rights.  These “fundamentals” are required to meet the criteria of membership and constitute the  preconditions for a sustainable modernization of the Western Balkan states. The European Commission has monitored the state of reforms on the basis of consultations with government officials and external observers.

To involve civil society in this assessment and to provide better evidence for public debates, a Montenegrin think tank, the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), has surveyed 41 experts and analyzed publicly available data. Drawing on the Commission’s new standardized assessment scales, CDT and I developed detailed questionnaires that assess the following areas: functioning of the judiciary; fight against corruption; fight against organized crime; media freedom; public administration reform; human rights. The results of these surveys are now published in two reports. read more

The Quality of Democracy in East-Central and Southeast Europe

Paper presented at the Conference “Measuring Democracy: What are We Measuring and How Does CEE Fit in?, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague 21-22 September 2017

The young democracies in East-Central and Southeast Europe have been particularly susceptible to the wave of populist, anti-establishment and extremist political forces that now challenge liberal democracy across the globe. The new challengers claim to represent the opinion of the ordinary people against a political establishment that is often portrayed as corrupt, elitist and controlled by foreign interests. Their polarizing and unifying ideological stances have contributed to a more confrontational political competition. Several countries have also seen an erosion of the institutions and mechanisms that constrain and scrutinize the exercise of executive authority. Illiberal policies have targeted opposition parties, parliaments, independent public watchdog institutions, judiciaries, local and regional self-government, mass media, civil society organizations, private business and minority communities. read more

Core Executives in Central Europe

Handbook of East European Politics, ed. by P. Kopecký and A. Fagan, London: Routledge

Core executives have become increasingly important political actors and arenas due to several interlinked developments affecting both states and societies. Modernisation has weakened the ties between political parties and voters, making parties more dependent on state resources and, in particular, access to government. Since the political process has become more dominated by media communication, political controversy tends to be framed between chief executives and rival political leaders. Global economic integration has narrowed the policy discretion of nation states and fostered the spread of non-majoritarian institutions entrusted with regulatory functions. These trends have been associated with the growing weight of policy output as a source of legitimacy, in contrast to “input legitimacy” derived from democratic elections. Among the three branches of state power, executives control most of the tools available to influence policy outputs and the interventions of both domestic and international regulatory agencies. The crisis and politicisation of European integration have further enhanced the salience of national (chief) executives compared to national legislatures and supranational institutions. As a result, many of the choices characterising politics and policymaking are now made or shaped at the centres of executives. read more

Prospects of a Dialogue on Kosovo

Interview with Aleksandra Nenadović, Voice of America, 26 July 2017

On 24 July 2017 Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić called for an “internal dialogue” on Kosovo. His article triggered an intense public debate and a large media echo within and beyond Serbia because he urged his fellow-citizens to face reality and stop waiting to be given “what we have lost a long time ago”.  Serbia should cease to preserve “a conflict whose meaning we do not understand” and should rather resolve the “Kosovo (Gordian) knot” in a responsible and non-violent way. read more