Patterns of Democratic Backsliding

A paper for the ECPR General Conference, Hamburg, 25 August 2018, Panel 408: Same ingredients, different recipes: EU leverage and democratic backsliding in new member states and candidate countries

The subsequent economic and refugee crises have weakened the credibility of mainstream political parties in East-Central and Southeast Europe (ECSE) since prosperity and security no longer appear to be guaranteed consequences of European integration. The declining legitimacy of incumbents has provided opportunities for populist and anti-establishment mobilization. While these crisis-induced influences have been similar in all ECSE countries, the extent to which populist challengers have been able to win elections and form governments has varied significantly across countries. To explore these differences and assess the likelihood of populist electoral victories and subsequent illiberal policies in ECSE, the paper combines case studies of Hungary, Macedonia and Poland with a multivariate analysis of party systems, issue dimensions and cleavage configurations. It is argued that populist parties have attained political majorities through bipolar party competition, facilitated by congruent cleavages, particularly the congruence between sociocultural and EU-related cleavages. Based upon a comparison of the country cases, the paper discusses conditions that could constrain the illiberal erosion of democracy in ECSE. 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

Democracies Adrift

How the European Crises Affect East-Central Europe, in: Problems of Post-Communism, 63 (5), September 2016

The present article proposes to study and compare the state of democracy in East-Central European countries. Such a comparative survey is deemed timely because there have been electoral landslides, corruption scandals involving political leaders and mass protests in several of these countries. Popular satisfaction with democracy has declined and democratic accountability institutions have been eroded in Hungary and Poland. These developments pose questions about where these democracies are heading and how their paths are related to the crisis of European integration. read more

East-Central Europe and the European Crises

Claudia Matthes and I prepared a paper for the panel: “Demokratieentwicklung in vergleichender Perspektive”, organized at the annual conference of the DVPW section on Comparative Politics, German Institute of Global and Area Studies, 25 – 27 February 2015

The conference venue: GIGA Hamburg
The conference venue: GIGA Hamburg

East-Central European Democracies Adrift? Trajectories and their Causes

Electoral landslides, corruption scandals involving political leaders, declining satisfaction with democracy, mass protests and the erosion of democratic accountability institutions in one of the countries, Hungary, raise questions about the development of East-Central European democracies. Our paper argues that these democracies are subject to several drift processes triggered by the crises of economic and European integration and the deeping dealignment between voters and political parties. The impact of these factors differs from country to country, depending on its configuration of institutional constraints, socio-political cleavages and citizens’ expectations. In the paper, we examine how these structural factors influence democratic governance in East-Central Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) and why some of these democracies have been more resilient than others. read more

Regionalparteien in Rumänien und der Slowakei

Vortrag beim EZFF-Autorenworkshop “Regionalparteien nach der Europawahl: Selbstverständnis, Handlungsspielräume und Bedeutung” 23.-25.10.2014, Tutzing

Mehrere Parteien konkurrieren um die Repräsentation der magyarischen Volksgruppen in Rumänien und der Slowakei. Während der Verband der Magyaren Rumäniens (UDMR/RMDSZ) seine dominante Position seit der politischen Pluralisierung Anfang der 1990er Jahre behaupten konnte, verlor die traditionelle Partei der Magyarischen Koalition (SMK/MKP) in der Slowakei gegenüber der 2009 neugegründeten Partei Most-Híd, die magyarische und slowakische Wähler anzusprechen versucht. 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