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:
In this post Alexander Schmotz, Oisín Tansey, and Kevin Koehler argue that dense economic, societal, cultural and diplomatic linkages between autocracies stabilize autocrats in power. They present the results of two recently published papers statistically analyzing the effects of autocratic linkages on regime survival.
Recent presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan were widely praised as a democratic milestone in the history of the country and the entire region. However, a closer look at assessments by international election observation missions and at events prior to the election discloses numerous shortcomings and irregularities. Patronage networks, financial and administrative resources played a crucial role for electoral success, making the Kyrgyz presidential elections an example of free and competitive, but not fair elections. Instead of further democratization, elections bore testimony to consolidating hybrid regime structures argues Ann-Sophie Gast in this guest contribution to the WZB Democracy Blog.
Statue in the remote Talas region – by Ann-Sophie Gast
In this analyses of the Czech election results our research fellow Seongcheol Kim argues that the results of the recent Czech parliamentary elections mirror the populism / anti-populism conflict in the Czech party system, while the dramatic decline of previosuly established parties signals a seismic shift in the party system and its central cleavages.
Andrej Babiš at the ANO press conference on election night (photo by Divíšek Martin for deník.cz).
For background on the election campaign, please see Seongcheol`s previous post here.
The upcoming Czech parliamentary elections have seen a discursive shift from a left/right toward a populism/anti-populism conflict and a government without a populist party is unlikely, argues Seongcheol Kim in his latest Blogpost for the WZB Democracy Blog.
ANO campaign banner on a tram in Prague depicting Andrej Babiš & Martin Stropnický. Foto by Martin Fendrych