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

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

Politics and Religion in Eastern Europe

An interview with Magda Crișan, Romanian TV program Digi24, 11 May 2016

Political elites in East European countries have often referred to religious beliefs or sought to form alliances with church leaders. One aim of their efforts has been to convince citizens and the public that they share common values and are committed to act ethically responsibly.

Putin_KyrillMore frequent references and appeals to shared religious beliefs in recent years reflect the growth of right-wing populism, uncertainties caused by the crisis of European integration and fears regarding the inflow of predominantly Muslim refugees. The extent to which religious references are made in political discourses also varies according to the strength of religious allegiances and the respective influence of churches in societies. Contemporary resonance structures are rooted in state identities and the influences of historical state-building coalitions with churches. read more

Im Schatten der europäischen Krise

Zur Lage von Demokratie und Marktwirtschaft in Ostmittel- und Südosteuropa

Regionalanalyse zum neuen Transformation Index der Bertelsmann Stiftung, Februar 2016

Die globale Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise und die folgende Krise der Eurozone hatten jenseits der unmittelbaren ökonomischen Wirkungen auch gravierende politische Konsequenzen in Ostmittel- und Südosteuropa. Die Krisen zeigten, dass eine auslandsabhängige ökonomische Entwicklung anfällig gegenüber den internationalen Finanzmärkten ist. read more

Polens Verfassungskrise

Ein Interview mit Ivana Pribakovic, Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF), Rendez-vous, 29.12.2015

In Polen verweigerte der Staatspräsident den vom alten Parlament neu gewählten Verfassungsrichtern die Vereidigung und ernannte stattdessen die von der neuen nationalkonservativen Parlamentsmehrheit gewählten Richter, obwohl das Verfassungsgericht diese Ernennungen für verfassungswidrig erklärt hatte. Im Dezember 2015 änderte die neue Parlamentsmehrheit das Verfassungsgerichtsgesetz, um die Richter zu zwingen, alle Entscheidungen mit einer Zweidrittelmehrheit zu treffen und die ihnen vorgelegten Fälle in der Reihenfolge des Eingangs zu bearbeiten. Die Gesetzesänderung ermöglicht der Parlamentsmehrheit, auf Antrag des Präsidenten und des Justizministers, einen Verfassungsrichter in besonderen Fällen von Fehlverhalten zu entlassen. read more

Spielräume und Grenzen der Visegrád-Kooperation

in Ungarn 1989-2014. Eine Bilanz nach 25 Jahren, hrsg. v. H. Küpper, Zs. H. Lengyel und H. Scheuringer, Verlag F. Pustet, Regensburg 2015, 55-76

Ungarn

Dieser Beitrag bilanziert die Kooperation zwischen den vier ostmitteleuropäischen Staaten Polen, Slowakei, Tschechien und Ungarn, die auf die Visegráder Erklärung von 1991 zurückgeht und als sogenannte Visegrád-Gruppe organisiert wurde. Vor dem Hintergrund der demokratischen Umbrüche 1989/90 waren die neuen politischen Eliten mit ähnlichen Herausforderungen konfrontiert und sich einig in dem Ziel, ihre Staaten vollständig in das europäische politische, ökonomische, Sicherheits- und Rechtssystem zu integrieren. Dieses Ziel erreichten sie mit den Beitritten zur NATO 1999/2004 und zur Europäischen Union 2004. Dennoch setzten die vier Visegrád-Staaten ihre verstärkte Kooperation nach 2004 fort, und ihre Beziehungen verdichteten sich sogar. read more

Contestation and Democracy in Eastern Europe

Keynote Lecture, Annual Graduate Conference for East European Studies, Akademie für Politische Bildung Tutzing, 19 June 2015Movie Rings (2017)

  • Is East European politics more contested than in the past?
  • Why has public contestation increased?
  • How does increased contestation influence democracy and the prospects of democratization in Eastern Europe?
Turnout
(c) Martin Brusis

Report (in German):JOE2015_AkPB_Report

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

Ethno-Regional Diversity and Political Integration in Eastern Europe

A seminar  for PhD students at Kazakh National University Al’-Farabi, Almaty

Eastern Europe has been shaped by historically late state and nation building. Due to this trajectory, questions of state identity and cohesion have acquired persisting political relevance. Ethnopolitical conflicts have led to the disintegration of all three state socialist federations. Ethnopolitical cleavages structure party systems in the new nation states of Eastern Europe, particularly where they are related to persisting ethnoregional diversity. read more