Krastev described the background and context. In Central and Eastern Europe, there was, broadly speaking, a fear of immigration; but the real trauma was emigration and population loss. The countries were shrinking demographically. Surveys showed that Poland was shrinking by 15%, BiH by 29%, Bulgaria by 40%. These declines were unprecedented in the absence of war and natural disasters. One economic effect was shortages in labour markets. COVID -19 revealed the devastation caused in the health sector, with the loss of medical professionals to countries where they were better paid. This also meant the loss of money invested eg in the education of medical professionals, and the invisible transfer of money from the periphery to the centre. Governments were unsure how to react. Strong nationalist rhetoric was employed, like the Berlin Wall, to stop the exodus of people. There was also a major generational imbalance, with the young especially likely to leave: and a political effect, with the tendency of pro-EU voters to leave. The very fact of going abroad and making a living outside a country was seen as a success; just as under Communist rule moving from country to city was seen as a move-up. Illiberal governments, eg in Hungary and Poland, were not closing their countries to foreigners, rather welcoming them as guest workers; but were not giving them political rights, thus divorcing labour markets from politics and the nation.
Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Anastasakis introduced the seminar by stressing the role of protest as a means to address issues that are neglected—or even created—by national elites and established institutions. “Bottom up” movements can be a vital source of innovation and a bulwark of democracy.
The speakers shared an understanding that protests can have important impact in several areas, namely:
· Politics, for example by shifts in voting patterns and party structures;
· Policies and economics, where resources may be reallocated and incentives adjusted;
· Culture and norms, when the standards of behaviour adjust;
· Biography, in the sense that the lives of protesters can take on new directions; and
· Networking and society, as when new nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) emerge from protest movements.
Tuesday, 9 March 2021
Monday, 8 March 2021
Turkey’s constitution: The President’s monopoly over state power and the shrinking role of the parliament and judiciary
The first speaker, Bertil Emrah Oder, the Dean and Professor of Constitutional Law at Koç University Law School, unpacked the role of courts, and especially the role of the Constitutional Court in checking and balancing the use of power by the President. In addition, she examined the impact of the current system on the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, explaining how Turkey could be seen as a case study to identify the dynamics of judiciary politics and constitutional reviews. She situated this case study in the broader literature on electoral autocracies and on comparative scholarship on the role of courts in the light of the third wave of autocratisation. Drawing on a range of examples, from cases of human rights defenders, journalists’ detention, and freedom of expression of academics, she analysed the judicial qualities and behaviour of Turkey’s Constitutional Court. She argued that the influence paradox, employed by the Court, masks autocratisation in Turkey and leads to the compliance of legitimisation advantages and the contestation of disadvantages for the populist autocracy. She concluded that the tensions embedded in this complexity are associated with the role of the constitutional judiciary in electoral autocracies, ultimately revealing the fragility of the Court and its dependence on political forces.
Monday, 1 March 2021
On 24 February, Ivor Sokolic (LSE), Ljubica Spaskovska (Exeter University) and Milica Uvalic (Perugia University) spoke at a SEESOX webinar on this subject. All had contributed to the volume “ The Legacy of Yugoslavia: Politics, Economics and Society in the Modern Balkans”, (I.B.Tauris 2020) co-edited by Othon Anastasakis, Adam Bennett, David Madden and Adis Merdzanovic. The book concentrated on continuities and discontinuities between former Yugoslavia and the successor states. Othon Anastasakis and Adis Merdzanovic co-chaired the session.
Ivor Sokolic addressed civil society, with case studies on Croatia and Serbia. Civil society provided checks and balances on nascent democratic states and institutions. It was an advocate of human rights and freedoms, and contributed to the deepening of democracy. The emergence and existence of civil society provided the true test of discontinuity. In Croatia, the effects on transitional justice were mixed: civil society both supported and opposed democratisation. The key insight was the role that the legacy of ethnic conflict played in leading to these diverging outcomes. In Serbia, civil society was the key political battleground since the collapse of Yugoslavia. It was similar to other civil societies in Central and Eastern Europe but weaker. It was more of a nascent political society than a civil society. Discontinuity from Yugoslavia was evident, but so was the shadow of the legacy: dissidence and the legacy of eg the Croatian Spring was a clear example of continuity. In Croatia and Serbia, there was a shared legacy of conflict and slow transition. Civil society both challenged and supported democratisation.