In this blog piece, WZB intern Rebecca Farulli (Sant’Anna School of Advance Studies – University of Trento) offers a picture over the recent government crisis in Italy and the road ahead for the current political coalition born out of it in contrasting far-right narratives and electoral success.
Debating democracy, legitimacy and representation in the EU usually revolves around the European Parliament – a discourse that is not living up to the bloc’s particular nature as a ‘people of peoples’. Contrary, our guest author Carsten Gerards (College of Europe) argues in this blog post, that member states’ parliaments must become an integral part of the equation, both keeping their governments on a short(er) leash and counterbalancing the supranational institutions.
Populism is one of the most defining elements of contemporary politics, but how do we avoid the danger of conflating populism with nationalism, racism or even fascism? WZB visiting researcher Lazaros Karavasilis examines the differences that exist with populism and other –isms, while suggesting alternatives for the improvement of studying populism.
The first round of the Slovak presidential elections took place on March 16, 2019, with Zuzana Čaputová of Progressive Slovakia and Smer-backed Maroš Šefčovič advancing to the second round taking place on March 30. WZB researcher Seongcheol Kim examines the contrasting discursive strategies of the two candidates in the election campaign thus far, especially their competing attempts to appeal to conservative voters.
What do the so-called Meiji restorations in Japan in the 1860s, the great transformations to Bolshevism and fascism in the 1920s and 1930s have in common? They’re all discussed in „The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation“ edited by Wolfgang Merkel, Raj Kollmorgen, and Hans-Jurgen Wagener. The English translation is out now:
After the Brexit vote in July 2016 there is a clear answer for the supporters of a pure majority rule, certainly not for someone who regards democracy as the rule of as many as possible. Only 37.4 percent of the registered electorate and only 34.3 percent of the voting-age population voted for “leave” (see blog post “Brexit: Risk and fun of majority rule and direct democracy” (29.06.2016)). In Germany, the people would not even get a chance to vote. However, such a decision would have to pass first and second chamber, i.e. the Bundesrat and the Bundestag with two-thirds majority. Applied to the population a similar quorum would be appropriate.
Not the same in Great Britain! One may stick to a pure majority rule but the withdrawal of a decision should be based on a majority at least as large as that for the decision.
Partisanship is not only about feeling close to but also about rejecting political parties. To test this idea, Carlos Meléndez and WZB Democracy guest researcher Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser measure positive, negative and anti-establishment political identities in contemporary Chile and they find out that by examining these different types of partisanship one can get a much more accurate picture of how voters relate to the political world.
Radical right parties have seen increasing electoral success throughout Europe. What does this imply for parties and party systems? Do established mainstream parties adjust their policy positions in response to successful radical right parties? If yes, is this “contagious effect” restricted to specific party families or is this an overall trend within European politics? Tarik Abou-Chadi and Werner Krause investigate these questions and find that mainstream parties adjust their policy strategies when confronted with a successful radical right challenger and shift toward more anti-immigrant positions. Using a novel research design, they can demonstrate that these shifts are not just a response to changing public opinion but can be causally attributed to the success of the radical right.
The re-election of Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party in the April 2018 national parliamentary elections in Hungary has reinstated pressure on democracy in the European Union as it has reinforced a leader who has been systematically curbing political freedoms and civic liberties ever since in power. While such developments in Poland have quickly prompted criticism and action from the EU institutions, the democratic backsliding in Hungary could unfold without major obstacles since 2010. In their guest contribution, Zsuzsanna Végh and Malisa Zobel argue that Orbán’s Christian democratic allies in Germany, the CDU/CSU, bear a particular responsibility in the process: their continued reluctance to set and enforce red lines further facilitates the dismantling of Hungarian democracy.
Eight years into the rule of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz, Hungary offers a particularly fascinating case for a discourse and hegemony analysis that examines how hegemonies institute, redefine, and displace the frontiers defining the social space. What is notable in the discourse of Fidesz is that in the last 20-odd years, a core set of key signifiers or nodal points such as “homeland” or “nation” has been articulated around shifting oppositions and, in the past eight years, has been tied to a systematic attempt to institute a new type of regime – first under the name of the “System of National Cooperation” following the Fidesz landslide of 2010 and then under the internationally catchier heading of an “illiberal state.” The hegemony project of Fidesz, in a sense, takes onto a whole new level of institutional radicality the aim of every hegemonic project: namely, the redefining of the coordinates of the social. As Orbán openly declared in a 2009 speech: