Autocratization in Post-Soviet Eurasia

forthc. in: Routledge Handbook of Autocratization, ed. by A. Croissant and L. Tomini

My chapter maps the scholarly discussion on autocratization processes in post-Soviet states. Autocratization is understood broadly, as a decline of democratic qualities that may be limited to changes within a political regime, but may also lead to a change of a given political regime. This dual notion of regime change is important for the post-Soviet region and its scholarship, as autocratization has occured while the question of what constitutes a political regime, that is, its values, norms and structures of authority, continue to be contested among political actors. read more

Demokratie im postkommunistischen EU-Raum. Erfolge, Defizite, Risiken

Springer Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2021 (Mitherausgeber: Günter Verheugen und Karel Vodička)

Wie resilient ist die Demokratie in Osteuropa? Mehrere Regierungen demontierten rechtsstaatliche Kontrollen und beschränkten die Meinungsvielfalt. Beflügelt von den Krisen der Europäischen Union, mobilisieren Populisten und Extremisten Unzufriedene. Korruptionsaffären und dubiose ökonomische Interessen scheinen die Politik zu beherrschen. Dieses Buch untersucht, inwieweit Akteurskonstellationen und gesellschaftliche Bedingungen illiberale Politiken in den postkommunistischen EU-Staaten begünstigen. Renommierte Länderexpert*innen analysieren Defizite, Erfolge und Risiken der demokratischen Entwicklung in den postkommunistischen EU-Mitgliedstaaten und in Ostdeutschland. Sie liefern ein systematisch vergleichendes und nuanciertes Gesamtbild – eine Generation nach den demokratischen Umbrüchen und im Blick auf Europas neue Gegensätze. read more

Movement Parties and Democratic Quality

A panel debate at the ECPR virtual General Conference, 3 September 2021

How does the emergence of anti-establisment movements and movement parties affect democracy? How do movement parties transform institutions and procedures of democratic representation? What implications have their ideological leanings on democratic quality? How does their use of digital media bear on their forms of action, organizational structures and cultures of advocacy? How has the pandemic affected their evolution and their linkages with civil society?

These questions were explored on a panel at the ECPR General Conference, organized by Fred Paxton, Lorenzo Mosca and the PRODEM project, an international research network studying the impact of movement parties for democratic politics in several European countries. I was invited to discuss the three excellent papers presented at the panel. In my comments, I highlighted the ambivalence of movement parties. They can be viewed as revitalizing democracy insofar as they mobilize and integrate disengaged groups, they contribute to pluralism and they are more responsive to citizens’ demands. But some movement parties and their governments have also been associated with exclusionary representation claims, restrictions to civil liberties and the erosion of institutional checks and balances. Thus, the balance for democracy and its quality appears to be more uneven and less clear than suggested by some authors. read more

Revisiting Linkages between Citizens and Politicians in Contemporary Europe

An international workshop organized by the Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Political Science, Charles University, Prague, 27-29 January 2021

The workshop revisited the influential book Post-communist party systems: Competition, Representation, and Inter-party Cooperation, published by Herbert Kitschelt, Herbert, Zdenka Mansfeldová, Radosław Markowski, and Gábor Tóka in 1999. My task was to discuss the first workshop panel: “Contemporary Challenges to Party Systems”. Chaired by Zdenka Mansfeldová, the panel featured two of her co-authors as presenters (Radosław Markowski, Gábor Tóka). Additional papers were presented by Oľga Gyárfášová, Comenius University in Bratislava, and Peter Učeň, Michel Perottino, Charles University Prague, Dragomir Stoyanov, University of Sussex, and Plamen Ralchev, University of National and World Economy, Sofia. read more

Towards a valid and viable measurement of SDG target 16.7

My chapter in: SDG16 Data Initiative. Global Report 2020, New York, 32-37

The UN Member States have set ten specific targets for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 , the promotion of just, peaceful and inclusive societies. Of these targets, target 16.7 aims at ensuring “responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”. Among the 17 SDGs and the 169 targets defined to achieve the Goals, target 16.7 may be viewed as a key target because it focuses on political decision-making, which is a crucial prerequisite for all of the desirable policy outcomes defined in SDG 16 and in the other SDGs. This chapter discusses the official indicators for monitoring target 16.7 and argues that the Global State of Democracy Indices – a set of democracy measures developed by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) – can function as valid proxy indicators. read more

Resilience to the Pandemic Not Only Depends on Enforcement Capacity

A commentary for International IDEA’s website

As COVID-19 virus infections are spreading across the world, the factors enabling states to cope with the pandemic have become the subject of intense public debate. High-income countries can rely on a much more developed hospital infrastructure to treat patients in critical conditions. However, economic wealth is not the only factor influencing the response capacities of states. China has demonstrated that it is possible to limit the spread of the disease by enforcing strict measures of social distancing and isolation.   read more

Rekindling Democracy’s Promise in Europe

An Op-Ed for “The European” and “Balkan Insight“, jointly written with A. Bekaj

A little more than 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the jubilation felt over the dawning of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe has dissipated. The region faces challenges that make the promise of democracy look like a mirage.

Anti-government protesters march in Belgrade, Serbia, in April 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/Srdjan Suki

Over time, regimes in countries such as Poland, Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria have taken steps to curtail civic space, undermine checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of a few. read more

Conditions of Democratic Backsliding

Shop Talk at Pew Research Center, Washington DC

Democratic backsliding can be defined as the gradual weakening of checks on government and civil liberties by democratically elected governments.  In my talk I discussed potential causal paths likely to trigger and support backsliding. By comparing episodes of democratic decline over time and with countries not affected by backsliding, I investigated the extent to which weaknesses of particular democratic institutions, economic crises, exposure to globalization, the presence of populist political actors and polarized political communication in a digital public sphere contribute to backsliding. My empirical analysis was based, amongst others, on the Digital Society Survey and the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) Indices, an set of composite indicators that measure democratic performance across 158 countries from 1975 to today. read more

Rising Exclusivity and Declining Democracy

Panel Debate at the Bali Civil Society and Media Forum, Bali, Indonesia

The Bali Civil Society and Media Forum (BCSMF) took place in the framework of the 12th Bali Democracy Forum, a large meeting of governmental and non-governmental representatives mainly from Asian and Pacific countries. Its organizers, the Djakarta-based Institute for Peace and Democracy and the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs seek to make democracy a strategic agenda in the Asia-Pacific.

Line-up of foreign ministers and participants

My contribution focused on how increasing social inequality contributes to weaken democratic accountability. Other panelists included Peter deSouza and Nejib Friji. The subsequent discussion was quite diverse, ranging from the role of technology in democracies over the accommodation of minorities, the rise of ethno- and religious nationalism, the participation of youth in democracy to the relationship between democracy and capitalism. read more

Potentials and Constraints of a Visegrád Cooperation

Published in “The New European Union and its Global Strategy: From Brexit to PESCO”, ed. by. V. Naumescu, Newcastle 2019, 258-275.

At the European Council of 28 June 2018, the Visegrád states successfully convinced the other European Union member states to refrain from a mandatory relocation of persons in need of international protection. The EU agreed to organize the relocation and resettlement of refugees and other recognized asylum seekers on a voluntary basis. This decision implied the abandoning of plans to reintroduce a mandatory relocation scheme similar to the temporary mechanism that had been adopted against the votes of the East-Central European EU member states in September 2015. read more