Advising Regional and Federal Studies

In June 2018, I was invited to join the Editorial Advisory Board of Regional and Federal Studies, one of the leading journals exploring territorial politics, federalism and regionalism. The journal carefully reviews, selects and publishes high-quality articles dealing with various aspects of regionalism and federalism crossing substantive, thematic, geographical, theoretical, and methodological boundaries. The journal’s content spans federalism and multi-level government, decentralization in the developing world, post-conflict federal power-sharing arrangements, minority nationalist movements, and many other topics dealing with divided political authority and territorial diversity. Although the journal’s roots are in the study of Western European multi-level government, RFS has expanded its profile to incorporate regionalism, federalism and decentralization in the developing world and in the Americas.  I have always appreciated this journal and look forward to strengthening the expertise available to RFS editors, providing strategic guidance and promoting the journal further.

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

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

Medium-Term Strategic Planning

A workshop by SIGMA and Montenegro’s Ministry of European Affairs, Podgorica 11-12 May 2017

To step up its EU accession preparations, the newly elected government of Montenegro has established a new Ministry of European Affairs (MEP) since November 2016. In May 2017, the Ministry organized a government-wide workshop on the coordination of strategic planning together with SIGMA, the joint program created by the OECD and the EU to strengthen public management.

The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the requirements and coordination of strategic plans, to link strategy documents and medium-term budget planning and to define goals and indicators for monitoring and reporting. Apart from MEP, senior civil servants from the Secretariat of the Government, the Ministry of Finance and key line ministries attended the workshop. SIGMA experts included practitioners from Estonia, Latvia and Hungary. read more

Performance Monitoring for Montenegro

CabinetMeeting
Government of Montenegro: Cabinet Meeting

Montenegro belongs to a group of income-poor, small and young Southeast and East European democracies interested in joining the EU. To master the challenges of accession and membership, these states have to create a modern and effective public administration. However, experience has shown that externally imposed accession conditions and regulatory alignment do not sufficiently prepare new EU member states to overcome culturally ingrained practices of corruption and clientelism. Accession-driven administrative reforms yield sustainable effects only if they are complemented by stronger domestic public accountability. read more

Paths and Constraints of Subnational Government Mobilization in East-Central Europe

Article in: Regional and Federal Studies 24 3 2014, 301-319.

Abstract

The article studies the impact of enlargement on subnational governments in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. It compares the resources and political constellations of subnational governments and analyzes how these variables interact with Europeanization to influence domestic intergovernmental relations, the management of Structural Funds and the EU relations of subnational governments. The article argues that stronger regional governments (in Poland and the Czech Republic) have been able to resist attempts to centralize intergovernmental relations. Decentralizing reforms occurred where incumbent governing parties dominated subnational government (Poland). Under ‘vertically divided’ government (Czech Republic), subnational governments sought unmediated access to EU institutions. read more

Federalism and Governance Winter School

A lecture series on ethno-regional diversity and political integration in Central and Eastern Europe, European Academy Bozen/Bolzano, Winter School Federalism and Governance, 12 February 2014

(c) Martin Brusis
(c) Martin Brusis

Outline

• Does ethno-regional diversity still matter in Central and Eastern Europe
(CEE)?
• How have CEE regions emerged?
• Why have the state socialist federations collapsed?
• What approaches exist to integrate ethno-regional diversity?
• Why have CEE states reformed their territorial organization?
• How does European integration affect regionalization in CEE? read more

Quality of Democracy and the “Sustainable Governance Indicators”

Relating the Sustainable Governance Indicators
to the Quality of Democracy

Paper for the Workshop “Measuring Democracy”. IPSA Research Committee on the Quality of Democracy, DVPW-Arbeitskreis Demokratieforschung, Frankfurt/Main, 29 September – 1 October 2013

The Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) are a set of 147 detailed items and two aggregated indices that measure the quality of democracy (QoD), policy performance and executive governance in OECD member states. Two editions have been published since 2009 by the Bertelsmann Foundation, an NGO based in Germany. The SGI consist of qualitative expert assessments, country reports and data retrieved from official statistics. As the name suggests, the SGI have been designed to measure the quality of governance, a concept that overlaps with concepts of democracy or QoD, but has its distinct origins, ideational references and discourse communities. read more

Party Strategies and Administrative-Territorial Reforms in Poland

Article in: West European Politics 36 2 2013, 405-425

Abstract

How well do electoral competition, ideological divides and territory-based cleavages explain the strategies of administrative-territorial reform chosen by political parties in Poland? The role of these logics is explored in the creation of regions and regional self-governments (1999), local electoral reform (2002), rules of adopting regional development projects (2006) and the creation of metropolitan regions (2008). The paper provides evidence supporting the salience of vote- and office-seeking strategies, the rise of a national-conservative opposition to decentralisation associated with the weakening of the post-communist divide, and parties representing distinct eastern and western constituencies. Since its creation, subnational government has become more dominated by state-wide parties and has stabilised the emerging bloc party system on the central level. read more

Making Reform Happen

Towards a Diagnostic Framework

Keynote paper for the SELLER Network Conference, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, 21-25 May 2012, Budva

Abstract

The present paper suggests a conceptual framework that disentangles the “politics of policy reform” as a chain of delegation and accountability relations. This framework shall help reformers and consultants to analyze weak links in the chain. The proposed approach overlaps with the notion of a policy cycle, but focuses on political actors and their interdependence, while avoiding the temporal, institutionalized sequence associated with the cycle idea. read more