Total Pageviews

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Illiberalism and post-ideology party politics in South East Europe

On March 8 2017, Dr. Adis Merdzanovic and Dr. Othon Anastasakis presented two separate papers and shared the findings of their recent research in a SEESOX seminar, chaired by Nancy Bermeo.

In his presentation, Dr. Merdzanovic, who is a junior research fellow at SEESOX, first provided definitions to the key concepts of the seminar. The first concept he explained was “party politics,” which he argued was linked with the concept of “cleavages.” Merdzanovic agreed with assessments that the four ruptures that Lipset and Rokkan in their seminal piece (1967) stressed, has been reduced to two dimensions in most European countries, as argued by Kriesi et al. (2006).  The two cleavages that seem to matter the most are the economic and cultural, with the latter’s exact content being contested and spreading from materialist versus post-materialist values to the cosmopolitan versus communitarian values. The second and third concepts Merdzanovic explained were “ideology” and “illiberalism”. He argued that illiberalism was not an ideology, but a mode of political rule which negated liberal values through rhetoric and took action against liberal rules and practices, targeting institutions.

Moving on to his case studies and the region of SEE, Merdzanovic argued that in South East Europe (SEE) recent research conducted by Szöcsik and Zuber (2014) demonstrates that economic issues are not salient within the party systems, meaning that the parties do not differ much on this dimension. What matters more is cultural polarization along two dimensions: (1) the libertarian/post-materialist versus traditional and authoritarian, and (2) ethnonationalism, in other words, the majority versus minority nationalisms. These two dimensions, however, are highly correlated, suggesting that any types of concerns get channeled through political culture.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Assessing varieties of populism: From Europe to Asia

On 1 March 2017, Dr. Yaprak Gursoy (St Antony’s College, Oxford) gave a seminar on variants of populism in a comparative perspective at SEESOX with Prof. Michael Freeden (Emeritus, Mansfield College, Oxford) as discussant. In the seminar titled “Assessing varieties of populism: From Europe to Asia,” Gürsoy compared Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), Thailand’s Thais Love Thais Party (TRT) and India’s People’s Party (BJP). The event was part of SEESOX’s Hilary Term seminar series dedicated to the rise of illiberalism in South East Europe and chaired by Karolina Wigura. Gürsoy kicked off by mapping the vast array of definitions currently attributed to populism. There are three approaches to defining populism: Populism as an ideology, populism as a strategy and populism as style.

While Cas Mudde in his 2004 work considers populism as a thin-centered ideology that separates society into two ‘homogenous and antagonistic groups’ as ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite,’ Jan Müller describes the populist world view as “morally pure and fully unified –but … ultimately fictional—people against elites who are deemed corrupt or in some other way morally inferior.” (Müller 2016) As Gürsoy argued populism being an ideology is contested but considering populism as a strategy does not provide an intact definition of the phenomenon either, but it correctly emphasizes the importance of leaders. On the other hand, through this approach, populism can be seen as adaptive to neoliberalism due to its low institutionalization agenda which is also directly linked to the charismatic leader factor who “reaches the followers in a direct, quasi-personal manner that bypasses established intermediary organizations, especially parties…» (Weyland 1999, 381)