Abstracts for the Norface Governance Final Conference
Here you can download the Norface Governance Final Conference Programme with panels details.
|THEME 1: INEQUALITY AND REDISTRIBUTION
|PANEL 1.1 European Retirement Income Preferences
10:45 - 12:30
Chair: Justyna Struzik
|1. Public preferences on the public-private mix for retirement income in European countries
Tobias Wiß (Johannes Kepler Universität Linz), Juan J. Fernández (University Carlos III Madrid), Karen M. Anderson (University College Dublin) (DEEPEN)
Most affluent democracies are faced with low fertility rates and increasing life expectancy challenging the financing of pension systems. Several countries have reformed their pension systems and provide (future) old-age income based on different sources such as public, occupational, and private pension in response to these developments, whilst others are reluctant to follow the path of multi-pillar pension systems. Yet, we still have a very little understanding of what are the preferences of the population regarding the mix of public and private sources for their retirement income. Most studies so far investigate the public opinion about the (most) preferred provider of old-age income. However, this does not reflect the real situation of most people, as retirement income is usually composed of several sources. Therefore, we are interested in the analysis of the preferred mix of pension income. What explains public preferences of the public-private pension mix? A novel cross-national survey in six European countries (Austria, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain) with variation in the current multi-pillar pension system disentangles several socio-economic factors at individual level such as age, gender, income, education, political ideology, and financial literacy. Pension reforms against the majority of public opinion are not only electorally risky, but also endanger satisfaction with the welfare state and the way democracies work. Knowledge about public opinion and what explains it is therefore crucial.
|2. A Conjoint Analysis of the Willingness to Increase Contributions into Occupational Pension Plans
Sara Gonzales (University Carlos III Madrid), Juan J. Fernández (University Carlos III Madrid), Hayley James (University College Dublin), Tobias Wiß (Johannes Kepler Universität Linz) (DEEPEN)
In light of declining public pension benefits, occupational pension plans are increasingly perceived as a suitable solution to ensure the retirement income of citizens in European countries. Yet we still have a limited understanding of the conditions under which workers are willing to increase their voluntary contributions to these plans. This paper utilizes a novel cross-national survey in six European countries (Austria, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain) to explore this issue. Using a conjoint experiment, it determines what plan characteristics (past returns, ESG policy, technical expertise of board members) affect the willingness to increase those contributions. The analysis yields multiple interesting findings. First, past returns have the strongest and most robust influence. Respondents are more likely to contribute to these schemes if past returns are positive and high (≥5%). Second, the presence of financial experts and union members reduces the willingness to contribute to these schemes. Third, ESG policies of funds also matter, especially opposition to invest in companies that promote gender inequality or that facilitate activist investment. Fourth, current participants and non-participants don’t differ substantially in their attitudes.
|3. Doing finance without being finance – the uniqueness of Danish funded pensions
Hayley James (University College Dublin), Karen M. Anderson (University College Dublin) (DEEPEN)
In pensions, financialisation means that outcomes are becoming more dependent on financial markets. For example, pension entitlements are increasingly delivered through funded schemes, where contributions are paid up front and invested in markets, alongside a trend towards defined contribution schemes, where outcomes are based on contributions and investment returns. These changes mean that the risk of any shortfall in later life rests on the shoulders of individual members. These overarching dynamics of pension financialisation have attracted much attention from scholars in political economy and policy fields, yet within this, a growing body of research points out that the extent to which pension scheme members face these risks is mitigated by how their schemes are delivered and managed, which varies significantly between countries and even elements of pension systems. For example, literature has highlighted that institutions and actors from both the public and private sector coalesce to deliver services like pensions, previously considered the domain of the welfare state, with different outcomes emerging from these constellations (Anderson, 2019; Bonoli and Natali, 2012; Gingrich, 2021; Naczyk, 2021; Natali, 2018). This aim of this paper is first, to comprehensively outline the parameters of how funded pensions are delivered and managed, including organisational forms, management structures, functions of pensions, and how the different possibilities in these realms shape outcomes for individuals. Second, to analyse Denmark’s pension system, a world-leading system that predominantly relies on defined contribution pensions, to understand the parameters which enable this success. We argue that pension schemes in Denmark, by virtue of market and organisation level structures which prioritise democratic control, are able to deliver funded pensions in ways that provide economic security for members. We call this doing finance without being finance. These findings have theoretical implications for examining pensions system as well as policy implications for how pensions are delivered and managed.
|4. Who is Anxious about Her/his Retirement Income?
Juan J. Fernández (University Carlos III Madrid), Tobias Wiß (Johannes Kepler Universität Linz) (DEEPEN)
In light of population aging and multiple reforms of public pension programs, social scientists have conducted extensive research on attitudes towards public and private pension policy programs. Yet, we still have a rather limited understanding of the emotions working-age citizens have towards their retirement income. Given the negative tone of news on this topic in most societies, declining public pensions, and increasing financialization, we can expect citizens to experience significant public pension angst. To advance our understanding of this topic, this paper conducts, to our knowledge, the first quantitative study of the determinants of pension angst in mostly high-income societies. We draw on two cross-sectional and comparative surveys designed by the OECD and Eurofound implemented in 2018 and 2020 in 25 independent states. The key questionnaire item asks respondents how concerned they are about "not being financially secure in old age." We focus on both country- and individual-level determinants. Preliminary results indicate that retirement income angst is strongly related to income: respondents with lower income and those in poorer countries experience higher levels of angst. Moreover, having strong individual social capital and living in rural areas is associated with lower levels of this form of anxiety.
|PANEL 1.2 Identity Politics
11:00 - 12:45
Chair: Marlis Stubenvoll
Discussant: Gerhard Schnyder
|1. Educationism in comparative perspective: exploring the particularities of education-based identity and prejudice across nine European countries
Jochem van Noord (Vrije University Brussels), Bram Spruyt (Vrije University Brussels), Toon Kuppens (University of Groningen), Filip Van Droogenbroeck (Vrije University Brussels) (UNDPOLAR)
Education is often a forgotten or overlooked conflict. Due to the relatively strong legitimacy of the education institution and little explicit mobilization around educational groups as groups with distinct interests, educational conflict has not garnered similar attention as other conflict. Though recent literature has demonstrated this gap, what is missing specifically is (1) a demonstration of the prevalence of the psychological elements of educational conflict across countries, namely, identity and prejudice; and (2) the particularities of educational conflict, especially in comparison with material or income-based conflict. We use representative data gather as part of our UNDPOLAR/Norface consortium on nine different countries to investigate there matters. With this we document the prevalence of identification with education-based groups and educationism, that is, education-based prejudice that favors the higher over the less educated. In addition, we contextualize both identification and educationism by comparing it with other identifications (e.g., country, gender, income) and income-based prejudice. We find that identification with education is prevalent across European societies, as it is only exceeded by national and regional identification. The level of educational identification is on par with gender and age, and higher than income or ethnicity. Further, we demonstrate the particularities of educational prejudice. Dislike of the less educated is modest, but higher educated are preferred over the less educated. As such, educationism is weaker than income-based prejudice. This is in line with the strong legitimacy of education as a mechanism for stratification. While we find differences between countries, higher income and higher education increase both educationism and income-based prejudice. Identification with either one’s education or income group tend to strengthen the effect of educational level and income.
|2. Identity Politics old and new – Appeals to Social Groups in Parliamentary Debates Over Time
Marvin Stecker (University of Vienna), Fabienne Lind (University of Vienna), Hajo G. Boomgaarden (University of Vienna)
Social groups represent an important structuring force of the political space for ordinary citizens (Converse, 2006). While much research considers their perceptions and voting behaviours (Elder & O’Brian, 2022; Farrer & Zingher, 2022), until recently less attention has been paid to the (changing) cues which parties use to mobilise and represent different social groups. Building on literature that studies group appeals in parties’ election leaflets (Dolinsky, 2022) and manifestos (Thau, 2019), we turn to parliamentary debates to take advantage of their richer intra-party diversity of representatives and coverage of non-election time periods to ask: RQ1: How distinctive are social group appeals in parliamentary debates between political parties over time? RQ2: Which political actors/social groups are similar, based on social group appeals in parliamentary debates? Our dataset relies on parliamentary speeches from Germany (1949-2022) and the UK (1945-2023), sourced from GermaParl (Blaette & Leonhardt, 2023) and TheyWorkForYou (2023). To automatically extract social group mentions, we use a supervised classification algorithm (Licht & Sczepanski, 2023; Stecker et al., 2023). For RQ1, we take the social group mentions as input for a supervised machine learning task and, following the design of Peterson & Spirling (2018), interpret the accuracy of the classifier as a measurement of the “distinctiveness” of social group mentions by parties. To answer RQ2, we build two-mode networks (Lizardo, 2024) out of speeches by MPs and mentions of social groups. From these, we can extract both similarities of parties and politicians, as well as social groups. The results allow us to make both (temporal) general observations of the importance and distinctiveness that social groups play for parties in parliamentary discourse; but we also highlight discursive coalitions of relations between groups and parties, relating these to established cleavage literature.
|3. Measuring Party Campaigning: A New Framework and Approach
Stephanie Luke (University of Sheffield) and Katharine Dommett (University of Sheffield) (DATADRIVEN)
Election Campaigning is often depicted as slick, modern and increasingly technological exercise conducted by professional elites within political parties. These diagnoses have often focused on the emergence of new practices in the organisation and activity of party elites. And yet, research has shown parties to remain reliant on grassroots campaigners and activism, and to engage in many longstanding campaign activities. In this paper we revisit the question of how to characterise party campaigns by moving away from three prevailing trends within existing frameworks. First, we challenge the tendency to focus on what is ‘new’. Second, we assert the need to map what is happening within central and (often numerous) local campaigns. And third, we call for more transparency about how judgements about parties’ campaign practices are actually made. Adopting this approach, we present a new framework for characterising parties' election campaigns. Using an illustrative case study of the Scottish National Party (SNP), we offer a more holistic and nuanced account of party organisation that, we argue, is more clearly able to account for the party’s activities and fortunes. This article accordingly contributes a new framework for the analysis of parties that focuses less on novelty and change, and more on capturing the distinctive ways in which campaigns are constructed.
|4. The Unexpected Democrats? Protecting Democratic Norms in Context of Affective Polarization
Morgan Le Corre Juratic (Aarhus University), Markus Wagner (University of Vienna), Daniel Bischof (Aarhus University)
Existing research largely showcases the negative consequences of affective polarization on democracy and also raises concerns that affect could turn into violence. Much in contrast, we emphasize that the perception of affective polarization can bring the boundaries of democracies to light. Thereby we understand affective polarization as a social norm: Given that individuals use the behaviors of others as a reference point for their own behavior, observing the affective rejection of non-democrats installs the idea of boundaries in democratic discourses. In contrast, the absence of such rejection – one-sided affect – in highly affectively polarized environments leads to an increase of undemocratic behavior and potentially to the marginalization of groups. In this pre-analysis plan, we develop a lab-in-the-field experiment to test our hypotheses.
|5. When money drives health and education: Diminishing acceptance of economic inequality showing its spill-over effects
Francisco Miguel Soler-Martínez (University of Granada), Efraín García-Sánchez (Standford University), Guillermo B. Willis (University of Granada)
Understanding the factors contributing to the acceptance of economic inequality is crucial for developing effective strategies to address this issue. Previous research, almost exclusively focused on salary gaps or wealth distributions, has indicated that economic inequality is tolerated to some extent. However, theoretical frameworks of justice and recent empirical evidence suggest that people would tend to judge economic inequality as less acceptable when they perceive its spill-over effects into other value spheres. This research aims to explore whether perceived spill-over of income inequality into health and education could diminish acceptance of economic inequality and, consequently, increase support for actions for its reduction. Initially, correlational study was conducted (Study 1, N = 348). Next, following an experimental within-subjects design, participants were exposed to information about two fictitious societies with a high (vs. low) overlap between income inequality and health (Study 2a, N = 201) or education (Study 2b, N = 207) inequalities. The results revealed that a greater perceived spill-over of income inequality into the health and education domains lessens acceptance of economic inequality, leading to increased support for redistribution and collective actions against economic inequality. This research may have implications for how media and political discourses frame economic inequality, presenting it as a phenomenon that extends beyond the monetary sphere to other crucial domains of people’s lives, such as health or education. This perspective could enhance support for policies aimed at reducing economic inequality.
|THEME 2: THE EVOLVING POLITICS OF THREAT
|PANEL 2.1 Political Polarization in Europe
09:00 - 10:45
Chair and Discussant: Sonja Zmerli
|1. Populist economic policies: East Central European governments and foreign direct investment
Andreas Nölke (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main), Gerhard Schnyder (Loughborough University London), Dorottya Sallai (LSE), Daniel Kinderman (University of Delaware) (POPBACK)
The treatment of foreign multinational enterprises (MNEs) by populist radical right-wing parties (PRRP) in government presents a puzzle: At times, PRRP governments support, at times they take aggressive action against foreign MNEs. How can we explain the ambiguity of populist international business policy adopted by governments that adhere to economically nationalist rhetoric, ideologies, and goals? Our article contributes to these debates by theorizing the factors that determine PRRP governments’ multi-handed approach to MNEs. We empirically discuss these factors based on a mixed methods design by comparing country cases (Hungary, Poland and Slovenia) and sector cases (finance, manufacturing, and media). We demonstrate that the common denominator of the multi-handed approach by ruling PRRP is their desire to decrease the presence of foreign multinationals, but that this desire is tempered by economic and political restrictions, notably including their electoral fragility, the need for technology transfer and limited alternative sources of FDI.
|2. Varieties of information control and media instrumentalization in populist and authoritarian political regimes of Central-Eastern Europe
Marko Ribać (Peace Institute Slovenia), Burçe Çelik (Loughborough University London), Mojca Pajnik (Peace Institute Slovenia), Marlene Radl (University of Vienna), Fanni Toth (Loughborough University London), Tjaša Turnšek (Peace Institute Slovenia), Lana Zdravković (Peace Institute Slovenia) (POPBACK)
Presentation delivers some important insights into the populist backlash and democratic backsliding processes in Central-Eastern Europe (CEE) as experienced by the journalists and editors in five selected countries: Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Turkey. Authors bring together comprehensive empirical and interpretative data from a coded database of almost 100 in-depth interviews conducted with seasoned and experienced professional journalists and editors. Presentation consequently brings forward two wide-ranging analytical observations pertaining to the authoritarian- populist backlash phenomenon in CEE countries: 1) it offers a comparative historical perspective on how political and economic control has been exercised over the media in three post-socialist contexts (Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia); 2) it explores how numerous political, economic and technological forms of information control are implemented and maintained in various journalistic fields under authoritarian-populist rule (Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Turkey). Two main points are argued one after another; first, authors show how privatisation, “tycoonisation” and media capture in a four decade period, from socialism to pandemic (and post-pandemic) authoritarian governance contribute to the processes of democratic backsliding in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia: namely, to the polarisation of the media field, to deprofessionalisation of journalistic profession and to a loss of public trust in the traditional media. Second, authors outline how mechanisms of control in authoritarian populist contexts (Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Turkey) expand from micro to macro level of those four selected and analysed media systems: from individual threats and discrimination at personal level, to ownership and editorial changes at organisational level and finally, to financial as well as legal pressures at the level of the media system itself.
|3. Supranationalism v. Populism: The variegated sheltering of EU assets in populist countries
Andreas Nölke (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main), Dorottya Sallai (LSE), Gerhard Schnyder (Loughborough University London) (POPBACK)
Membership of the European Union (EU) has long been considered a ‘seal of approval’ guaranteeing a countries’ strong institutional protections for investments and property rights. However, in the context of right-wing populist backsliding in East Central European (ECE) EU countries, the expectation that the EU would protect foreign direct investments (FDI) has only partially been borne out by the evidence. Different EU institutions have reacted in different ways to anti-FDI actions of right-wing populist governments. Thus, the EU Commission and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) do not seem to do much to protect EU FDI in ECE countries when EU companies come under attack from populist governments, e.g. through special taxes targeting foreign Multinational Corporations (MNCs). Conversely, for countries that are part of the banking union, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been more active in protecting EU banks’ interests, e.g. during the restructuring of the Slovenian banking sector. This paper explores the variegated effect EU institutions have on sheltering FDI from EU countries in members states with right-wing populist governments. Based on an analysis of regulatory changes and legal cases about governmental actions against foreign MNCs, the paper seeks to identify the factors that explain when EU membership has a ‘sheltering effect’ on foreign in vestments and when it does not. The paper argues that a key element is the degree of supranationalism, with higher levels of supranationalism providing EU institutions both the means and the incentives to intervene in favour of foreign capital.
|4. Are Populist Governments Really Pro-People and Anti-Elite?
Irakli Barbakadze (University of Cambridge), Simon Deakin (University of Cambridge)
The paper studies the effect of populist governments on labour regulation and share- holder protection. Using large country-level panel data covering 60 countries between 1970-2018 and various DiD estimators, we find a positive effect of populist transition on individual labor rights, including those relating to fixed-term employment and unjustifiable dismissal. No treatment effect, by contrast, is observed for collective labor rights, relating to employee representation and industrial action. Most features of shareholder protection are not affected by periods of populist government. There are changes in the mandatory bid rule (a proxy for laws favouring hostile takeover bids) and the disclosure of major share ownership which are sizable and statistically significant, but they are in opposite directions: populist transition is associated with loosening mandatory bid requirements, and tightening disclosure rules. Our analysis throws light on the nature of populist government, which is selectively pro-worker, conferring individual protections while avoiding legal changes which might empower independent sources of labour power such as trade unions. Populist governments appear to be lukewarm towards corporate governance rules that promote shareholders’ interests at the expense of workers (hostile takeovers) but are happy to deploy such rules to control rival concentrations of private economic power (disclosure rules).
|5. Austrofascism and populism – what can an examination of the overlapping factors teach us for the present?
Austrofascism and populism overlap in important areas: Although the ideology and leader figure stand out in fascism, both phenomena have in mind the reference to the “people” as a homogeneous body, the creation of polarities and their moral charge, the invocation of “common sense”, of an (alleged) state of crisis and the appeal to simple solutions that should also be able to overcome complex problems. Lines of continuity from Austrofascism seem to extend into the present, not least due to current political discourse (e.g.: Dollfuß-Memorial in Lower Austria), and the whole of Central Europe seems to be caught in the pincer grip of primarily right-wing populism. My historical master thesis examined the relationship between Austrofascism and populism, and my dissertation project aims to provide insights for the present. The theory of fascism teaches us that it is often an explosive mixture of economic hardship, general uncertainty, widening social divides, loss of solidarity and epoch- making crises, generally times of upheaval in which social trust and cohesion are put to the test that give birth to fascisms. There are some arguments in favor of conceding such a crossroads at present: Covid-19 has placed a great strain on the public's trust. Inconsistent handling and incoherent communication have destroyed a lot of social trust. Despite all protestations, the social gap is widening ever wider. Conspiracy myths are flourishing, state denial is increasing. And it is not yet foreseeable which distortions will cause the necessary measures to secure human existence in the future. Combating the spreading ecological catastrophe will require the utmost solidarity and a lot of sacrifice. The communication mechanisms of the current world will reinforce existing tendencies towards division - especially in a climate of general uncertainty and existential threat.
|PANEL 2.2 Threats, challenges and possible solutions to sustain democracy
11:00 - 12:45
Chair: Karolina Koc-Michalska
Discussant: Jan Nicola Beyer
|1. Political microtargeting: Assessing the effects of being (mis)targeted on topic attitude, topic importance, and ad liking
Annelien van Remoortere (ASCoR), Susan Vermeer (ASCoR), Sanne Kruikemeier (Wageningen University) (DATADRIVEN)
In this paper, we use an experimental design to examine how political microtargeting influences citizens’ attitudes towards a topic, attitudes towards the ad, and issue importance. We deploy a large-scale experiment in the Netherlands with a multi-party system. Participants (N = 1,245) were exposed to a novel mock-feed on Instagram contains politically targeted advertising. Results indicated that citizens are more likely to adjust their opinion on a topic when their preferred party does not align with their own opinion. We also find an obvious targeting effect for attitudes towards the ad, indicating that respondents who were exposed to an ad of their preferred party were more likely to like the ad. Based on the results, this study offers insight into the extent to which targeting communication can lead to more issue polarization.
|2. Don’t Believe the Hype?: Evaluating the Democratic Impact of Political Micro-targeting (PMT) in Election Campaigns in Europe
Rachel Gibson (University of Manchester), Kate Dommett (University of Sheffield), Sanne Kruikemeier (Wageningen University), Sophie Lechler (University of Vienna) (DATADRIVEN)
This paper presents an overview and normative evaluation of empirical research on data-driven campaigning with a particular focus on the practice of voter microtargeting. Specifically, we interrogate evidence from prior analyses of this new style of individually tailored messaging by parties – conducted primarily through online campaign advertising - to draw out conclusions about its positive and negative impact on democracy. To date, this new practice has been the target of increasing criticism in mainstream news outlets, and opinion surveys reveal consistently high levels of public concern at its use in elections. Academic research has followed suit in terms of emphasising the negative aspects of this new practice for democracy, particularly since 2016 (Aargard and Marhedal, 2023). In this paper we seek to bring a richer theoretical and more precise empirical lens to examine the impact of PMT on democratic health. To what extent is this growing pessimism and even panic about PMT justified? We do so by first theorizing a core set of ‘baseline’ democratic standards for voter communication practices that campaigns need to meet. We then review empirical studies of online micro-targeting published over the past two decades against those standards to draw out where possible the extent to which they are met, fall short or even countered or subverted in some way. Our approach differs from prior reviews and overviews of microtargeting in that rather than examining claims about the potential negative or positive effects of PMT on democracy we interrogate the evidence and findings generated to date. In doing so we apply two important ‘quality controls’ to essentially ‘weight’ that analysis and the conclusions drawn. First, starting from the observation that most studies have centered on the single case of the U.S. we seek to highlight findings from studies from comparative and non-US cases where possible. Secondly, when weighing up the findings we try to be as precise in the nature of the activity under analysis. Specifically we focus on those studies that have examined PMT in terms of micro-targeted paid political advertising via social media platforms.
|3. Perceptions on reasons and consequences of selective news exposure across Europe
Agnieszka Stępińska (Adam Mickiewicz University), Denis Halagiera (Adam Mickiewicz University), Nicoleta Corbu (National University of Political Studies and Public Administration Romania) (THREATPIE)
The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we will trace the existence of selective exposure across different political and social contexts in Europe. Second, the paper will examine opinions on and perceptions of reasons of selective exposure, and consequences of selective news exposure. In particular, the paper addresses following research questions: (RQ1) To what extent do citizens selectively consume news from politically biased sources? (RQ2) To what extent do citizens perceive selective news exposure as a threat to democracy? (RQ3) What consequences of the selective exposure do citizens see (for an individual and/or society)? This study uses a combination of a survey and qualitative interviews and focus groups. Our findings show that in most countries selective news exposure is seen either equally often or more often as a threat to democracy than avoiding news content that is not in line with one’s views. Participants of our study perceived a diversity of sources of information and opinions as a crucial feature of healthy media diet and claimed that selective news exposure may lead to an increased polarization and tribalization of a society. Also, a high level of sense of democracy being threaten by selective news exposure (perceived harm) goes alongside with a normative approach (an expectation that a good citizen should follow news media that provide information about politics from different perspectives). Such a combination of perceptions was seen mostly in countries with a high level of political parallelism and political polarization, such as Poland, Romania, Italy, and Greece.
|4. Democratic Problem or Healthy Audience Practice? How Different Operationalization of News Avoidance Relate to Political Knowledge, Efficacy, and Life Satisfaction
Kim Andersen (University of Southern Denmark), David Nicolas Hopmann (University of Southern Denmark), Klara Langmann (Johannes Gutenberg-University), Christian Schemer (Johannes
Gutenberg-University), Morten Skovsgaard (University of Southern Denmark), et al. (THREATPIE)
News avoidance is often seen as a democratic problem, hindering political learning and engagement. At the same time, news avoidance may improve well-being. Previous research has, however, produced inconsistent findings with respect to the prevalence and outcomes of such audience behaviour. One potential source for these inconsistencies is the method of operationalization and measurement of news avoidance. Utilizing data from a cross-national survey conducted in 18 countries, this study presents a specification curve analysis to examine how different operationalizations affect estimates of news avoidance and its correlations with political knowledge, efficacy, and life satisfaction. The results show that measurement choices substantially affect the relationship between news avoidance and these outcome variables, going from negative to positive dependent on the operationalization. Thereby, the study also provides important knowledge on what forms of news avoidance that are more and less problematic for our democracies.
|PANEL 2.3 From the margins of democracy: process, temporality, and actors of the threat
15:45 - 17:45
Chair and Discussant: Ajmal Hussain
|1. In-/re-visibilization of migrants in activist activities
Jérémy Geeraert (Cesdip) (CrimScapes)
Based on ongoing research with pro-migrant activists in Europe, this paper questions the process of invisibilization of migrants of colour in discourses, representation and practices. While white activists tend to be put at the center of attention and action, in particular when they are being criminalized, migrants seem to disappear in the background. In a second step, this paper presents activist’s attempts to re-frame migrants in order to give them back agentivity and visibility.
|2. The reflexive dilemmas of the researcher using the category 'Muslim' in Europe
Alexandra Poli (Centre d’Etudes des Mouvements Sociaux) (QUEST)
Over the last few decades, Islam and Muslims have become a key subject of study in Europe, albeit with varying degrees of intensity depending on the national context. The centrality of the attention paid to Islam in public debate and in the academic sphere reveals conflicting representations of Muslim populations that constantly challenge the researcher's positionality. Based on a research experience in the French national context that is particularly sensitive to the expression of cultural, ethnic or religious differences in the public sphere, this presentation will examine the way in which the research relationship re-shapes the mapping of conceptions of muslimness.
|3. Roundtable Discussion
“Doing research in polarized contexts: epistemic and ethical challenges”
Dr. Agata Chelstowska (Jagiellonian University)
Juulia Kela (University of Helsinki)
Dr. Monica Five Aarset (Norwegian Social Research institute, OsloMET)
Prof. Dr. Ghufran Khir Allah (Nebrija University/Complutense University of Madrid)
Moderator: Prof. Dr. Berta Alvarez Miranda (Complutense University of Madrid)
This session will consider 3 transversal questions:
- Doing research in light of national context: scales, atmospheres and place for research
- What is the place of the emic (‘insider’) perspective?
- What characterises the relationships between researchers and respondents?
|4. Discussion with the Audience
|PANEL 2.4 Hope, grief and livable lives. Politics of emotion in the context of criminalisation
09:00 - 10:45
Chair: Juulia Kela
Discussant: Beate Binder
|1. Confining boundaries of agency in criminalised settings. On lived experiences of people who use opioids in Poland
Justyna Strujik (Jagiellonian University)
While agency is a very significant notion in the social sciences, meant to capture individual and group subjectivities and account for possibilities of change, in contexts marked by hopelessness and continuities of violence it can potentially constrain the deciphering of different strategies undertaken to survive and persist. Drawing on ethnographic research among people who use opioids in Poland, this presentation will critically explore the relevance of agency for research on contexts of chronic crisis. At the same time, I will show how opioid users work themselves to make their lives livable by navigating complex and hostile environments.
|2. The ethnographic novel as texturing research
Juulia Kela (University of Helsinki)
In presenting the CrimScapes research project’s upcoming ethnographic novel, this presentation will explore this form of connecting visual arts and ethnographic research through the politics of emotion. It will narrate the concrete process of turning anthropological research on fields of criminalization into a graphic novel, and highlight tensions in this process. Focusing on decision-making and ‘translation’, I ask how we have dealt with the question of whether we can effectively challenge criminal tropes. Through the concept of texturing, I locate the potentialities of re-figuring images of criminality, making visible different genealogies and temporalities of ‘crime’, and making visible a plurality of emotions, including intimacy, romance and humor.
|3. On productive disappointment. Reflections from the pro-abortion movement in Poland
Agata Chełstowska (Jagiellonian University)
The pro-abortion movement in Poland is founded on a series of disappointments - and new hopes. This new wave of social movement has transformed the crimscape of abortion not only by reacting to certain events in abortion criminalisation (tightening of abortion ban in 2020, criminalization of activists), but also by redefining hope - methods, goals and orientations of abortion activism in an increasingly criminalized environment. In this paper I will map out the fundamental disappointments connected to abortion criminalisation: from disappointments in the justice system; an evolving dialogue with politics; an abandonment of suffering as a tool for claiming rights; to a growing distrust in medical professionals. I will also show how these disappointments could be seen as productive turning points toward a more radical, embodied movement for abortion accessibility and appreciation. Finally, I will map out the dilemmas around criminalization, resources and visions of the future, evolving within the movement and connected to the questions of hope. The paper is based on ethnographic research in the transnational pro-abortion movement active in conditions of abortion criminalization in Poland.
|THEME 3 - DEMOCRATISATION OF INFORMATION AND EXPERTISE
|PANEL 3.1 Data-Driven Campaigning
15:00 - 16:45
Chair: Sophie Lecheler
Discussant: Agnieszka Stępińska
|1. Effects of data-driven campaigning on polarization
Xiaotong Chu (Amsterdam School of Communication Research), Rens Vliegenthart (Amsterdam School of Communication Research), Lukas Otto (Amsterdam School of Communication Research), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna), Claes de Vreese (University of Amsterdam), Sanne Kruikemeier (Wageningen University) (DATADRIVEN)
Although the practice of data-driven campaigning has been reckoned as a double-blade sword, research has mainly focused on its micro-level intended consequences (i.e., individual voting behavior and candidate evaluation). The macro-level "side-effects" on public opinion (i.e., polarization and knowledge among voters) have been largely understudied. Therefore, this study aims to investigate, respectively from within-individual and between-individual perspectives, how data-driven campaigning affects voters’ issue knowledge, issue attitude, and partisanship. Specifically, data-driven campaigning could lead to "filter bubbles" where voters are constantly exposed to information regarding a single perspective of a certain political issue from a particular party. At the within-individual level, such practice of political campaigning leads to lower issue knowledge, and more extreme issue attitude and partisanship compared to being exposed to diverse campaigning messages. At the between-individual level, data-driven campaigning leads to larger issue knowledge, issue attitude and partisan polarization compared to a diverse campaign exposure. To test the hypotheses, we plan to conduct a longitudinal experiment in the Netherlands. A quota sampling method will be employed where we conduct a survey prior to the experiment and measure participants’ pre-existing characteristics, such as their issue attitude, issue knowledge, party preferences, and demographics. Based on the party preferences and issue attitude, participants will be assigned to three conditions (right-wing campaigns vs. left-wing campaigns vs. a combination of right- and left-wing campaigns). The experiment period will last seven days. For the first six days, participants will be exposed to a different Facebook political ad every day. On the fourth and seventh days, post-exposure issue knowledge, issue attitude, and vote choice will be measured.
|2. Citizens’ acceptance of data-driven political campaigning: a 25-country cross-national vignette study
Rens Vliegenthart (Amsterdam School of Communication Research), Jade Vrielink (Wageningen University), Kate Dommett (University of Sheffield), Rachel Gibson (University of Manchester), Esmeralda Bon (University of Manchester), Xiaotong Chu (Amsterdam School of Communication Research), Claes de Vreese (University of Amsterdam), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna), Jörg Matthes (University of Vienna), Sophie Minihold (University of Vienna), Lukas Otto (Amsterdam School of Communication Research), Marlis Stubenvoll (University of Vienna), Sanne Kruikemeier (Wageningen University) (DATADRIVEN)
This paper investigates how the acceptance of data-driven political campaigning depends on on four different message characteristics. A vignette study was conducted in 25 countries with a total of 14,390 respondents who all evaluated multiple descriptions of political advertisements. Relying on multi-level models, we find that in particular the source and the issue of the message matters. Messages that are sent by a party the respondent likes and deal with a political issue the respondent considers important are rated more acceptable. Furthermore, targeting based on general characteristics instead of individual ones is considered more acceptable, as is a general call to participate in the upcoming elections instead of a specific call to vote for a certain party. Effects differ across regulatory contexts, with the negative impact of both individual targeting and a specific call to vote for a certain party being in countries that have higher levels of legislative regulation.
|3. Data-driven campaigning in a multiparty system
Linn Sandberg (University of Bergen), Anamaria Dutceac Segesten (Lund University)
Western political parties have become less relevant to citizens and are therefore less frequently used as a platform for citizens' political activities and engagement. A decreasing number of members in political parties and the increasing importance of short-term dynamics during election campaigns lead parties to seek other ways of representing voters and evaluate campaign efforts. At the same time the digital environment and platforms such as social media have continued to grow in importance. Political campaigns have kept up with this technological development and have evolved with the integration of advanced analytics. Digital campaigning and data- driven approaches are therefore now commonly used and integral parts of elections. This raises important questions pertaining to representation on the one hand, and integrity on the other. Most of the current research on data driven campaigning focuses on the US or other majoritarian contexts which have implications for our understanding of the width and form of data driven practices. This study therefore examines data-driven campaign practices in the Swedish context, representing a proportional electoral, and multi-party system. We examine the similarities and differences between parties’ views and applications of data analytics for their electoral campaigns. Our empirical analysis builds on interviews with campaign managers for all Swedish parliamentary parties, nationally, regionally, and locally in Sweden during the 2022 election year. Preliminary results show variation among parties in their approach to and use of data. However, there are considerable differences also within parties, which, suggests that regional and local levels play a role in the adoption of data-driven campaigning. In many cases, it would seem like these can also function as drivers for the data-driven practices that the national party secretariat implement.
|4. Data-driven campaigns in Spain? Temptative evidences from regional parties
Adrià Mompó (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) , Oscar Barberà (Universitat de València)
The collection, processing and use of citizens’ massive data to conduct electoral campaigns, is still under-researched in most countries outside the Anglosphere. In particular, we lack a better understanding on whether and how regional parties perform data-driven campaigns (DDC). In this paper we will examine the introduction of DDC in six of the most relevant Spanish non- state wide parties, all of them with representatives in the national parliament after the 2023 general elections. Our aim is to understand to what extent DDC are used for their campaigning strategies at both the regional and national level. We will interview campaign directors and key members of the staff following the three main questions defined by Dommett (2019): who is engaged in the campaigns (experts or novices, professionals or volunteers), what are the data sources (free or purchased data, interfered or disclosed by individuals) and how is this data used (generic or specific messages, wide or narrow audiences). Our main expectations are three: first, knowing that digital campaigning allows small parties to overcome mass media restrictions and spread their message (Galais and Cardenal, 2017), we expect Spanish regional parties to conduct digital-driven campaigns to some extent. Second, considering their lower capacity of managing sources and professional staff, they may be more likely to rely on volunteers. Third, their average use of DDC might be low and still under-developed because of economic restrictions and legal limitations, since Spanish legislation prohibits activities such as microtargeting. By this paper, we not only contribute to a better understanding of small parties’ data-driven campaigning, but also to introduce the topic to the Spanish context and the Spanish- speaking sphere, paving the way for further research.
|5. Examining the (Un)Intended Consequences of Data-Driven Campaigns: A Focus on
Information Asymmetry due to Exclusion Criteria
Sophie Minihold (University of Vienna), Fabio Votta (University of Amsterdam) (DATADRIVEN)
In data-driven campaigns, voter and campaign data are harnessed to target audiences and refine campaign strategies (Dommett et al. 2023, p. 2). While data-driven approaches enable precise targeting of online ads and messages for various voter segments, they also allow for deliberatively excluding certain voter segments. This is problematic because it may lead to unequal access to political information among citizens. This (un)intended consequence is called information asymmetry (Bayer, 2020; Tufekci, 2014). Unevenly distributed information possibly results in distorted political realities for citizens with dire consequences for social trust (Mazarr, 2019), fragmentation, polarization, or citizen misinformation (Kozyreva et al., 2020). Furthermore, it might hinder forming a comprehensive understanding of a topic due to incomplete information, and possibly lead to reduced interest in topics not emphasized by a party for a particular group of voters. While data-driven targeting has received a lot of attention in the scholarly literature, data-driven exclusion of citizens has not. In particular, we are interested in the deliberate exclusion of certain citizens by political parties and in understanding which citizen characteristics contribute to accepting this practice. The study places a specific emphasis on the explanatory power of partisanship. Especially supporters of right-wing populist parties might be guided by their "us vs them" mindset, which may lead to a greater acceptance of the exclusion of certain voter groups based on their data-points. We are in the process of collecting data using a multiple-wave panel survey study conducted during the 2023 Dutch general elections. Results will have broader implications for the (un)intended consequence of information asymmetry enabled by data-driven campaigning. Further insights are crucial for democracy because information asymmetry may hinder voters to fulfil their informational and participatory democratic role.
|PANEL 3.2 Media, AI, Misinformation
09:00 - 10:45
Chair: Oscar Barberà
Discussant: Tjaša Turnšek
|1. The more you read the more you know? The relationship between news use behavior and knowledge and misperceptions in 18 democracies
Luisa Gehle (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), Peter van Aelst (Universiteit Antwerpen), Jesper Strömbäck (University of Gothenburg), Christian Schemer (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), Alon Zoizner (University of Haifa) (THREATPIE)
Being politically informed is a key requirement for citizens in well-functioning democracies (e.g. Dahl, 1998). Significant parts of this political knowledge can mostly be acclaimed via the media. Drawing from data from 18 democracies (N = 26,000), we examine the impact of media and news consumption behavior on political knowledge. Next to a traditional measure of factual political knowledge, we will also look at misperceptions on climate change and Covid 19, to see whether some people might be affected by the large spread of misinformation on these topics. We will not only account for the amount of news use, but also look for the effect of different media genres as well as outlet types and news categories. Following existing research about media genres (Ansalem & Zoizner, 2023), we compare traditional mass media (TV, radio and newspapers) with social media and private messengers, public broadcasting with commercial outlets (e.g., Curran et al., 2009) and lastly, quality newspapers with popular ones (e.g., de Vreese & Boomgaarden, 2006). We also investigate similarities and differences across countries. The findings suggest that traditional media genres, public broadcasting and quality press, are associated with higher levels of knowledge and fewer misperceptions. In contrast, new media genres and commercial broadcasting tend to result in lower knowledge levels and an increased likelihood of misperceptions. The popular press, while contributing to greater knowledge, also shows an increase in misperceptions, suggesting a mixed impact depending on the country. On the country level, more diverse and free media systems seem to foster a positive relationship between popular press and knowledge while in countries with less diversity and freedom, popular press is associated with more misperceptions.
|2. The Threat of AI-fuelled Online Extremism,
Stephane Baele (University of Exeter) (ExId)
Over the past decade, two major phenomena have developed on the digital realm. On the one hand, extremism has grown massively on the internet, constituting sprawling online ecosystems hosting a wide range of radical subcultures and communities that both fuel “stochastic terrorism” and percolate to the “mainstream”. On the other hand, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has dramatically improved. From the ChatGPT to video deepfakes, from autonomous vehicles to CCTVs powered by facial recognition systems, an array of AI technologies has abruptly entered our everyday lives, unfolding a vast range of profound ethical and political questions. This presentation examines the toxic encounter of these two evolutions – each worrying in its own right. Using empirical findings from the NORFACE-finded ExID Project’s on both the characteristics of the far-right online ecosystem and the particular affordances associated with AI technologies such as generative models, the paper spells out the various ways AI will be – in fact already is – used to bolster extremist agendas on the internet. By offering a clear overview of the many facets of “AI-fuelled extremism”, the paper will unfold key implications for the future of liberal democracy across the globe.
|3. Truths, lies and fears: a comparative analysis of authoritarian populist discourse on the Russo-Ukrainian War
Fanni Toth (Loughborough University London), Tjaša Turnšek (Peace Institute Slovenia), Marko Ribać (Peace Institute Slovenia), Marlene Radl (University of Vienna), Sonja Gassner (University of Vienna), Sinem Aydinli (Loughborough University London), Maja Dodić (University of Rijeka), Burçe Çelik (Loughborough University London) (POPBACK)
Communicative authoritarian populism is characterized by a conspicuous shift away from informed argument, moving towards emotional dramatization and ‘infotainment’ (Thussu 2007), where information is reduced to simplified slogans or populist antagonisms to catch the attention of audiences. Authoritarian populists make use of this media populist zeitgeist, relying on complicity between the traditional and online communicative channels in order to reproduce an affective discourse and rhetoric to set the political agenda, frame or exacerbate “a crisis”, and popularise their narrow political idioms and forms. In this paper, we compare authoritarian populist discourses in the context of the Russo-Ukrainian War across five different European countries: Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Turkey. Specifically, we are interested in the reproduction of populist messages in the context of media hybridization (Chadwick, 2013), examining how authoritarian populists use both traditional and new media in the production of ‘politics of fear’, ‘exclusionary and divisionary discourse’ and ‘populist truth’ (Waisbord, 2018). Our research addresses the following questions: what are different populist discourses that evolve around Russo-Ukrainian War? How are authoritarian populist actors politicising the war within the televised and social media domains in different national contexts, and how do they frame exclusionary ideas? How do they exploit international events surrounding the war to advance their own nationalist agendas? For each country, we identify the most prominent authoritarian populist leader and analyse a selection of their televised speeches on public and private TV channels. Furthermore, we analyse how the selected leaders’ televised communicative populism compares to their messages on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
|4. Governing AI-base Automated Decision Making Systems in EU Public Law
Herwig C. H. Hofmann (University of Luxembourg) (INDIGO)
Decision making in EU public law is increasingly supported by automation. Concepts of how to ensure accountability of such automated decision making (ADM) in EU public law are only just evolving. This chapter analyses the potential of applying existing concepts of EU public law, especially those developed in the context of the control of delegated powers, to the empowerment of public bodies to design decision-making procedures supported by ADM systems. ADM systems are based on software supporting, or replacing, elements of human decision making. They are increasingly deployed in EU policy areas, which are implemented by multi- level data-sharing structures and common EU data bases. ADM systems can be simple support tools for human decision making, but with advancing technology, they may also advance towards becoming increasingly powerful covering more elements or more central elements of a decision-making process. The benefit of automating elements of decision-making procedures may include increasing the speed of decision making. Allowing for more decisions being taken in shorter time may be necessary, for example, in many areas of fast paced real-world action such as on financial markets. Automation also allows for enhanced cooperation and collaboration of various decision-making levels through sharing data and access to data in jointly established databases, such as, for example, in the field of customs, immigration and visas. Automation also allows for increasing the data volume that can be studied and taken into account in decision making, which for example is an important aspect of competition law enforcement in complex markets. ADM technology is making fast progress in line with advancements in both specifically designed and general-purpose programming of what is often referred to as artificial intelligence (AI). These features result in certain specific challenges of ensuring accountability of decision-making procedures to concepts of public law. Challenges result especially from information asymmetries with regard to the type and quality of data taken into account, the lack of understanding of the ADM system’s compliance with duties of care and obligations of reasoning of decision-making. Therefore, insufficient or poor software-design may result in introducing IT-based dysfunctionalities into decision making procedures. In a very simplified manner, tools to support accountability in public law, and associated legal principles, can be distinguished according to their timing in the decision-making cycle. Ongoing control and supervision of actors and procedures during a decision-making procedure. Ex post forms of review will be undertaken subsequent to a decision being taken and include accountability mechanisms such as judicial review often relying on reasoning obligations and aspects of transparency. But also anticipatory tools govern the conditions of legislative conferral of powers or delegation to implement EU law to the administration exist. Anticipatory, ex ante mechanisms for identifying the possibilities of the use of ADM in the exercise of public powers under EU law allow to define tasks and to impose conditions for their exercise. Such anticipatory requirements can be created by the legislative body conferring administrative powers on the executive and setting out conditions for their exercise and subsequent administrative rulemaking and guidelines which can additionally specify the use of public powers concerned on an executive actor. This chapter explores whether such requirements of setting the standards for ex post accountability mechanisms, can be derived from rules on the conferral and delegation of powers in EU law. Can these principles be applied to control decision making with the help of ADM? Is it possible, on this basis, to conceptualise notions of conferral of powers to an executive actor using advanced information technology in the process of decision making – with this chapter using the notion of ‘cyber-delegation’ as short hand. Does this allow for enhancing accountability of the use of public decision-making?
|PANEL 3.3 Exploring Representation and Privacy in the Digital Age
13:45 - 15:30
Chair and Discussant: Stephane Baele
|1. Give the People What They Want? How Issue and Political Fit Affect Visual Attention to and Cognitive Processing of Political Microtargeting
Selina Noetzel (University of Vienna), Alice Binder (University of Vienna), Jörg Matthes (University of Vienna) (DATADRIVEN)
One of the great promises of political microtargeting (PMT) is its attention-grabbing potential. Furthermore, PMT may reduce traditional adverse advertising reactions by impacting intermediate cognitive processes. However, the empirical basis for both assumptions is small. This study focuses on the effects of issue targeting on visual attention (i.e., first pass dwell time, total dwell time, ambient/focal) as well as on the activation of cognitive schema and conceptual persuasion knowledge (i.e., targeting knowledge, advertising awareness). Also, it investigates political fit as a moderator. We conducted a 2x2 mixed-design experiment (N = 193) combining implicit (i.e., eye-tracking, lexical decision task) and explicit measures (i.e., self-reports). Results of a multi-level analysis suggest that issue fit and political fit increased first pass dwell time, and political fit increased total dwell time. Advertising and targeting schema were activated irrespective of the experimental conditions. Issue and political fit increased targeting knowledge, and their interaction increased advertising awareness. These insights suggest that (1) PMT fulfills its attention- grabbing potential most when employed by a preferred party, (2) individuals activate baseline cognitive resources upon exposure to political social media advertising irrespective of the targeting degree but (3) deeper cognitive processing (i.e., conceptual persuasion knowledge) is activated with increasing degrees of PMT.
|2. Power to the people? How collective, proxy, or individual solutions to data protection affect privacy fatigue
Marlis Stubenvoll (University of Vienna), Selina Noetzel (University of Vienna), Sophie Minihold (University of Vienna), Alice Binder (University of Vienna) , Jörg Matthes (University of Vienna) (DATADRIVEN)
Citizens increasingly suffer from a sense of fatigue, cynicism, and helplessness in regard to their online privacy (Choi et al., 2018; Draper & Turow, 2019; van Ooijen et al., 2022). This phenomenon of privacy fatigue – defined as “a psychological state of tiredness with the issue of online privacy” (Choi et al., 2018, p. 43) – has been shown to negatively affect individuals' proactive management of their online data (Choi et al., 2018; van Ooijen et al., 2022). This trend also has implications for data-driven campaigning: Controlling the flow of one’s online data is a critical skill to actively manage which information political campaigners can use for targeted political advertising (Stubenvoll et al., 2022). To date, it is still unclear how privacy fatigue can be reduced (Boerman et al., 2023). This study aims to fill this gap by testing three interventions designed to increase citizens’ efficacy (Bandura 2000) and thereby reduce fatigue: 1) An intervention highlighting individual action (self-efficacy intervention) for data protection; 2) an intervention highlighting collective action (collective efficacy intervention) for data protection; and 3) an intervention highlighting protective actions by third actors (proxy-efficacy intervention) for data protection. To test the effectiveness of these interventions, we employ an experimental between-subject design, using a quota-based online sample of German internet users (N = 400). Data collection will be conducted in December 2023. This study contributes to our understanding of democratic governance in a turbulent age by investigating factors that empower citizens as active agents in coping with digital political campaigns.
|3. Exploring citizens’ preferences towards representation through a mixed-method design
Bartolomeo Cappellina (University of Vienna), Dylan Paltra (University of Vienna), Christopher Wratil (University of Vienna) (RUDE)
Over the last decades, most quantitative research on political representation has been measuring the disconnect between citizens and political elites through the prism of substantive (their matching in terms of policy preferences) and descriptive (their socio-demographic similarity) representation. At the same time, in political theory a wave of work on political representation has uncovered additional dimensions of the concept and encouraged a relational turn in the analysis of representation, devoting more attention to citizens’ expectations for their representatives. Following this turn, our study has the ambition to investigate citizens’ understanding of representation and what they want from representatives. Here, we present the first steps of a research stream that aims to understand how citizens think about representation, ascertain the relative importance of different dimensions of representation to citizens, and develop a toolbox for measuring citizens’ preferences on representation in quantitative research. We draw on an explorative approach proposing theoretical dimensions of representation citizens might care about, conduct in-depth interviews with citizens about their understanding of and priorities with regard to representation, and use survey-experimental methods to identify which aspects are most important to citizens. At the conference, we will be able to present our research protocol for a mass-survey study in five democracies, including open- ended questions, as well as a qualitative interviewing follow-up study in the same countries. In particular, we will present the protocol for qualitative in-depth interviews and focus groups to be run with a sub-sample of the survey respondents in each country. Depending on data availability, we will also present preliminary results of the mass survey and how the results inform our interview protocols.
|4. Citizens’ Preferences for Multidimensional Representation
Jack Blumenau (University College London), Fabio Wolkenstein (University of Vienna), Christopher Wratil (University of Vienna)
How do citizens want to be represented in politics? We investigate citizens’ multidimensional preferences regarding six conceptions of representation that figure prominently in political theory but of which some have been overlooked in empirical work. Our conceptual framework distinguishes substantive representation (match of policy positions between citizens and representatives), descriptive representation (match of socio-economic characteristics), surrogation (the presence/absence of an electoral relationship between citizens and representatives), justification (the declared aims of representatives), personalization (representatives’ relationship to their party), and responsiveness (representatives’ sensitivity to electoral sanctions). Using original item batteries and a conjoint experiment, we elicit the relative importance of the different dimensions from the citizens’ perspective and the types of representation people prefer on each conception. Our results from surveys fielded in the USA, the UK, and Germany show that (1) descriptive representation has limited appeal for citizens at large, but is important for historically marginalized groups; (2) citizens do not focus on local politicians when thinking about who represents them, but also seek surrogate representation from co-partisan politicians in other districts; (3) while citizens strongly value substantive representation, they are largely indifferent as to whether their representatives are responsive to electoral sanctions. Our findings have important implications for how political scientists study democratic representation, suggesting we should pay more attention to representation relationships without any direct electoral connection and not apply electoral responsiveness as a criterion for “good”, legitimate democracy.
|THEME 4 - SHIFTING IDENTITIES AND REPRESENTATION
|PANEL 4.1 Identity and Resentment in Geographical Divides
10:45 - 12:30
Chair: Gerhard Schnyder
Discussant: Stefan Svallfors
|1. Rural and urban as identity forming entities?
Antonia Lang (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main) (RUDE)
Places and areas in which people live can contribute to collective identities. While this hypothesis has been analysed extensively in the US-American context, there is little research on the content of people’s place identities in other countries. This paper aims at unravelling German voters’ identities, with a special focus on whether rural and urban are indeed meaningful, identity-forming concepts. To achieve this, I make use of a dataset that was specifically designed to capture place-base identities in several ways. I analyse open-ended questions on the respondents’ perceived ingroups and outgroups to assess the extent to which rural and urban spaces are the bases of identities. This paper thus contributes to the ever growing literature on place-based identities in Europe, quantifying respondents’ sentiments about who is similar to them and who is not. I find respondents to use very little place-related language when referring to people similar to them, instead opting to use values and value-related adjectives.
|2. Where do place-based identity and place-based resentment come from?
Rubén García Del Horno (Universitat Autònoma), Antonia Lang (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main), Alina Zumbrunn (University of Bern) (RUDE)
In recent times, there has been an upsurge in research on the rural-urban divide. A consensus is emerging within the academic community, recognizing that place of residence is influential for a number of political attitudes and behaviours, and that place can be understood as a distinct social identity. However, this raises the question of where this identity and the associated feelings of resentment come from in the first place. We address this question by drawing upon social identity theory and the contact hypothesis as theoretical frameworks. Our study delves into the explanatory power of several key variables, including place of residence while growing up, number of moves, length of residence, contact with people from the same and other places of living, and preferred place of residence. We argue that a person’s individual mobility history mainly influences the level of identification, while frequency of contact with people from other types of place influences resentment. Our empirical analysis leverages a comprehensive dataset encompassing responses from more than 17,000 individuals across five European countries, collected in the year 2022. In this way, we can show which factors are decisive in building a social identity from place of living. Our results not only contribute to a deeper understanding of the ramifications associated with place-based identity and place- based resentment, but also are crucial for addressing and ameliorating the divide between rural and urban areas.
|3. Geographical Divides in Citizens’ Discontent
Kathrin Ackermann (Heidelberg University), Antonia Lang (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main), Sigrid Roßteutscher (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main) (RUDE)
Political differences between geographical units are a highly debated topic. In Western democracies, particularly the rural-urban divide in politics has been receiving increasing attention in the past years. Yet, this divide does not seem to be the only geographical disparity in many societies. Many societies are divided along different spatial lines. The geographical units differ in terms of economic prosperity, sociodemographic composition and infrastructure. Studies show that the disadvantage of geographical units along these lines has an impact on citizens’ political attitudes and behavior. If a region has multiple disadvantages, this effect should be particularly strong. Thus, we argue that one needs to broaden the perspective by considering the multidimensionality of geographical divides that structure political conflicts in Western democracies. To test this argument, we study satisfaction with democracy in Germany and consider the intersection of the rural-urban divide and the east-west divide. Both geographical divides have the potential to structure political conflicts and we examine their common effect. We use data from the European Social Survey as well as from the RUDE survey that has been conducted in the course of the NORFACE Governance project “Rural-Urban Divides in Europe (RUDE)”. In particular the original survey data collected in the course of RUDE includes valuable information on the role of geography in citizens identity and the perception of political conflicts. We believe that our study has the potential to shed light on the interaction of geographic disparities and will help to understand geographically structured political conflicts in Western societies beyond the German case.
|4. An unrequited conflict: Affective polarisation among ruralites, suburbanites and urbanites in Switzerland
Alina Zumbrunn (University of Bern) (RUDE)
Climate crisis, COVID-19 pandemic, rising populism – a number of phenomena keep dividing today’s democracies and threaten societal cohesion. This has given rise to research on affective polarization, an individual’s feelings about their own group compared to how they feel about members of other groups. Affective polarization is typically measured between members of different political parties, but recent research also finds polarization with regard to concrete issues such as the pandemic or climate change. Further exploring affective polarization between new types of groups, the goal of this paper is to investigate affective polarisation with regard to place of living. Using an original survey data set of around 4,000 respondents from September 2022, I measure and compare affective polarization between rural, suburban and urban residents in Switzerland. Switzerland is an interesting case to study affective polarization between residents of different places, as the rural-urban divide becomes visible time and again in the quarterly held direct democratic votes. Results show that sentiments towards the countryside are equally more positive than towards the cities for residents of all places of living. Thus, there is a one-sided polarisation of rural residents, which is rooted in resentment about the distribution of political, economic and cultural resources. Current research on affective polarisation and its far-reaching consequences should therefore also be extended to include a place-based dimension in order to understand its full extent.
|5. Roots of resentment: Fact or fiction?
Michael Webb (Sciences Po Grenoble), Sonja Zmerli (Université Grenoble Alpes), Alina Zumbrunn (University of Bern) (RUDE)
In view of the current rise of populism, political polarisations, and democratic backsliding writ large - affecting not only 'younger' but also more established democracies - scholars in political science are increasingly concerned with their root causes. In this vein, cleavages between urban and rural dwellers, expressed in terms of resentment of various kinds or also coined as 'rural consciousness' (Cramer 2016), have recently shifted to the scholarly forefront. Public and political debates alike reflect these concerns, as well, when they raise the 'desertification' of some regions in their country related to the availability of services such as health care, public transport, education, etc. The RUDE (The Rural Urban Divide in Europe) project, funded by the current NORFACE research scheme, investigates the root causes of these geographical divides and a set of ensuing questions in a comparative perspective. For this paper, the authors make use of two representative online population surveys (France and Switzerland), developed and administered by members of the RUDE project in 2022, which encompass a breadth of measurement items tapping, amongst others, three types of dimensions of resentment (local resources, political power and cultural respect), respondents' identification with their place of living, satisfaction with local services, political attitudes and behaviour. This set of unique individual-level data is complemented by and connected with statistical community-level data which provides information on the availability of and distance to services related to the realms of healthcare, groceries shops, education, public transport and culture. Preliminary analyses indicate that citizens' resentment related to scarce or unevenly distributed resources at the community level are far less impacted by the factual availability or proximity of a variety of services that we tested than by their subjective assessment of and satisfaction with them. This consequential divergence between "what is" and "what is believed to be" raises significant and farther-reaching questions not only to the scientific community but to local politicians, policymakers or lawmakers more generally alike.
|PANEL 4.2 Gender, Media, and Legal Dynamics in EU
15:00 - 16:45
Chair: Marko Ribać
Discussant: Nikoleta Yordanova
|1. A Revolution in Representation? Lessons from a Failed Democratic Experiment
Bartolomeo Cappellina (University of Vienna), Camille Bedock (Sciences Po Bordeaux), Pierre-Etienne Vandamme (KU Leuven) (RUDE)
Many citizens consider that those supposed to represent them are detached from their own social reality, do not share their concerns, and care more about the benefits associated with positions of power. Among the most successful recent attempts at generating popular enthusiasm around a political movement, the Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S), in Italy, catches the attention. The M5S can be thought as a real-life experiment of an attempt to theorize and renovate the representative link. Building on two streams of literature on political representation and on the M5S as a digital party, we focus our attention on the particular vision of representation that was carried by this movement, on the way it was perceived by its activists, and how it failed to materialize in practice. We believe that interesting theoretical lessons can be drawn from this failed experiment of revolutionizing democratic representation. What makes the case of the M5S particularly interesting is the combination of an alternative vision of representation, the creation of a digital platform to materialize this ambition, and a sustained experience of participation in government. Compared with other challenger parties that remain in opposition, we can observe the effects of gaining political power on the operationalization of the proclaimed ideal. This article relies on the belief that both an empirical approach to political theory and an empirical approach rooted in political theory are relevant to advance our knowledge. To do so, this article relies on 39 semi-directed interviews conducted with M5S current or former activists conducted in 2022, with diverse profiles in terms of age, gender, level of politicization prior to the movement, political orientation and geographical location. Far from a revolution in the conception of representation, the analysis shows that what emerged from this experiment is the old hierarchical party structure dressed in new – technological – clothes.
|2. Structural Masculinism and Women’s Media Ownership in the Context of Authoritarian Populism: A Feminist Political Economy of Communication Perspective
Marlene Radl (University of Vienna), Burçe Çelik (Loughborough University London), Mojca Pajnik (Peace Institute Slovenia), Birgit Sauer (University of Vienna) (POPBACK)
This study explores the structural imbrications between gendered ownership in news media markets and masculinist authoritarian populism from the lens of a feminist political economy of communication. The existing literature offers useful insights into the authoritarian-capitalist restructuration of media, but less so into how these processes are gendered. Drawing on primary data and secondary resources of ownership ties in Austria, Slovenia and Turkey we explore the masculinist configuration of news media ownership in countries that saw the rise of authoritarian-populist politics in recent years, albeit in varying degrees. We employ the concept of structural masculinism and the perspective of feminist political economy of communication to reveal the ways in which women are systematically underrepresented as active media owners in these countries. We argue that this underrepresentation coupled with ownership concentration, clientelist-masculinist ties between politics and media, and the dominance of patriarchal family business models in media markets create a fertile ground for media influence and control by masculinist-authoritarian populists.
|3. For Whom the Court Rules: A Study of How the CJEU Shapes the Separation of Powers in EU Migration Law
Martin Westlund (University of Gothenburg) (SepaRope)
EU migration law is often realised at the expense of democratic scrutiny, judicial supervision, transparency, and human rights. Despite these issues, EU migration governance has not been central in attempts to rethink the EU in terms of separation of powers. My doctoral thesis aims to fill this gap and show how the CJEU shapes the separation of powers in EU migration law. I have found in case analyses that the CJEU in some cases has established positive obligations for Member States by referring to human rights and clarifying the open-ended provisions in migration law. Yet, it has also in central cases abstained from using its full powers for conceptualisation and scrutiny of the functioning of the asylum system or the scope of rights. Deference to the position of the legislature explains this dithering between expansiveness and restraint. Empirical data demonstrates an increasing judicial restraint when the CJEU faces political opposition. Interestingly, the Court appears to modify its judgments in follow-up cases when the stakes are lower. The separation of powers in the EU thus works dynamically as the power of the CJEU is formed by both positive law and institutional politics. The salience of political debates on migration arguably entails a limited scope for innovative rulings. The CJEU seems to be aware of this and recognises the discretion of the political actors to decide on the road to be taken. Orientation at the political branch means that constructive will-formation and control are weakened. As the Court seeks to avoid political issues by an administrative and deferential approach to solving legal issues, it supports a consensual model of decision-making that limits judicial opposition and control. This benefits parliamentary democracy but weakens judicial review, which is needed when political decisions challenge human rights and circumvent formal ways of decision-making.
|PANEL 4.3 Studying Muslimness in polarised societies: in quest of a balanced view of belongings and engagements
11:00 - 13:00
Chair and Discussant: Monica Five Aarset
|1. Gender and Generations
Monika Grønli Rosten (Oslo Metropolitan University), Cecilia Eseverri Mayer (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
In this panel, drawing on the cases of Madrid (Spain) and Oslo (Norway), we will focus on gender - and generational differences in Muslim responses to polarization and a negative framing of Islam in European societies. The presence of a new generation of European Muslims is creating generational tensions within the minority groups as well as polarization within the majority populations. This panel will discuss how the urban space and public atmosphere affects Muslim activism, focusing both on the national/city level and on two specific disadvantaged urban spaces (La Cañada Real in Madrid and Furuset in Oslo) and comparing how they are developing new grammars of action. Gender is another important dimension of Muslim responses and activism in a polarized European context. Muslim men and women have different experiences and agendas, and they are also categorized in very different ways by the majority populations. In our presentation we would like to explore such gendered differences in Muslim responses between the two national contexts, and the way they change from one generation of activists to the next.
|2. A Segregated Urban Space
Bartolomeo Conti (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), Berta Alvarez Miranda (Complutense University)
Building our comparison on the deep segmentation of the urban space of Nice and Ceuta in terms of ethnicity, religion and class, we aim to explore how and to what extent current processes of political polarization are affecting the feelings of belonging or estrangement of Muslims in the two cities. On the basis of ethnographic work, we will compare their interpretations of renewed efforts at separation, and their assessment of the physical and symbolic space open to challenging them, as a basis for individual and collective response.
|3. Engagements and Muslimness
Ajmal Hussain (Warwick University), Alexandra Poli (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales)
The contrast between the British and French religious scenes is often used as a basis for comparison in the study of Islam. The political and institutional treatment of religion and, consequently, its visibility in the public arena in the two countries, shape major differences. In this panel we share ethnographic research carried out in Birmingham (UK) and Boulogne Billancourt (France) in which we shed light on how Muslim populations contribute to re-arrange the urban landscape, in line with shifting identities and orientations to Islam that are formed in a climate of a politics of threat. While the subsequent re-arrangement of urban space and re-formation of Muslim subjectivities takes place in a dualistic atmosphere, the examples of collective achievement and individual negotiation we will discuss, highlights multiple possibilities for being Muslim or forming attachments to Islam that occur within changing urban and socio-economic environments.
|4. Roundtable Discussion
“Being Muslim in the turbulence of local democracy in Europe”
Dr. Monika Grønli Rosten (Norwegian Social Research institute, NOVA)
Dr. Cecilia Eseverri Mayer (Complutense University of Madrid)
Dr. Bartolomeo Conti (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)
Prof. Dr. Berta Alvarez-Miranda (Complutense University of Madrid)
Dr. Ajmal Hussain (Warwick University)
Prof. Dr. Alexandra Poli (Centre d’Etudes des Mouvements Sociaux, EHESS)
Moderator: Dorra Mameri-Chaambi, (EHESS)
|5. Concluding words
|THEME 5: CHANGING AUTHORITY OF INSTITUTIONS
|PANEL 5.1 Conceptualizing Democracy and Political Values
13:45 - 15:30
Chair: Juan J. Fernández
Discussant: Rachel Gibson
|1. Fight or unite? How democratic institutions moderate the link between polarization and political violence in 36 democracies over time (1970-2018)
Didier Caluwaerts (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Kamil Bernaerts (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) (UNDPOLAR)
Political violence poses an alarming threat to contemporary democracies. While the surge in political violence, particularly in the United States, is often attributed to a parallel rise in political polarization, our paper investigates the moderating effects of democratic institutions on the relation between polarization and violence. Acknowledging the importance of a nation's political and institutional context, we hypothesize that the relationship between polarization and political violence is contingent upon a country's institutional setup. This study makes a significant contribution to existing research by shifting focus from mere assessments of the impact of polarization on violence to a central exploration of how political institutions, specifically electoral systems and federalism, can potentially moderate these relationships. Adopting a cross-nationally comparative perspective and studying 36 countries over time (1970-2018), our research reveals that while identity-based polarization is associated with political violence, institutions play a pivotal role in mitigating these effects. Notably, democracies characterized by horizontal (proportional representation) and vertical (federalism) inclusiveness demonstrate a reduced likelihood of identity-based polarization escalating to violence. Thus, electoral proportionality and federalism emerge as crucial moderators in the relationship between identity-based polarization and violence.
|2. Beyond the Decline of Democracy: The Fraying of Republican Values in the Age of Neoliberalism
Cenk Saraçoğlu (Ankara University)
Many scholars and commentators have identified certain global trends, including identity- based polarization, the ascent of populist right and neo-fascist political movements, a decline in trust in liberal democratic institutions, and reduced political participation. They often label these trends as symptoms of the "decline of liberal democracy." While these trends are undeniably intertwined with the functioning of democracy in modern societies, focusing solely on "democracy" as the core of analysis is insufficient for a thorough examination of the distinct characteristics characterizing today's worldwide political and ideological crisis. This paper posits that it is the republican form of democracy that is currently under erosion in the contemporary world. The aforementioned trends are not primarily indicative of a decline in democracy per se but rather stem from the consequences of democracy becoming disconnected from republicanism within the overarching context of neoliberal hegemony, both as a political rationality and a strategy for capital accumulation. To substantiate this argument, this paper will draw upon the concept of republicanism advocated by thinkers such as Philip Pettit and Paulo Viroli. It will further assert that incorporating the notions of the republic and republicanism into discussions about the current turmoil can shed light on potential strategies for overcoming it. Within this framework, the paper will argue that world-historical principles and ideals associated with the concept of the republic, such as popular sovereignty, the paramount importance of the "common good" and public interest, and the neo-republican notion of freedom as "domination", can be rejuvenated to better understand the nature of the contemporary crisis and to develop strategies for moving beyond it. The paper will also examine political developments in Turkey over the past two decades to illustrate the relevance and significance of reevaluating the relationship between republicanism and democracy. This analysis aims to offer fresh insights into the current global political trends and discuss potential pathways towards resolution.
|3. Can Government Policies Moderate Political Backlash to Structural Change?
Reto Bürgisser (University of Zurich), Silja Häusermann (University of Zurich), Thomas Kurer (University of Konstanz), Susana de Pinho Tavares (University of Zurich) (TECHNO)
A rapidly growing literature suggests that economic uncertainty created by structural transformations of labor markets contributes to political dissatisfaction and the surge of the radical right. This paper addresses a natural – but largely unresolved – follow-up question: can governments moderate political backlash to structural change through appropriate policy interventions? While existing work suggests that spending cuts and austerity are electorally harmful to governments, we know surprisingly little about the presence of the reverse mechanism. We theorize the conditions under which expansive government policies may or may not increase political support among those affected by structural change. We zoom in on a carefully chosen and financially significant policy intervention: the French Professional Security Contract (CSP), introduced in 2011 with the explicit aim of supporting workers hit by structural economic change. Building on fine-grained register data, we show that the share of local CSP beneficiaries slightly moderates the relationship between structural economic deprivation on the one hand, and higher radical right voting and lower turnout on the other hand. We complement the municipal-level analysis with original survey evidence to elicit three mechanisms why a sizeable and targeted intervention like the CSP does not more strongly moderate political backlash. Our survey data suggests that beneficiaries understand and value the CSP's goals and effectiveness, yet its mitigating effect is likely constrained because recipients perceive other social groups as benefiting even more, highlighting the importance of policies that acknowledge and address the unique concerns of those affected by economic shifts.
|4. The Long-Term Consequences of Automation Risk on Electoral Behaviour
Bernt Bratsberg (University of Bergen), Henning Finseraas (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Peter Egge Langsæther (University of Oslo), Ole Rogeberg (University of Oslo)
This paper makes two contributions to the literature on automation and political behaviour: We examine long-run rather than short-run effects, and we use population-wide administrative data that avoids measurement and sample biases in previous work. With this data we identify how voter turnout in 2017 relates to occupational automation risk faced by the worker in 2003, fourteen years earlier. Economic adversity is commonly held to decrease turnout, with stronger effects for men whose labour market experiences appear more tightly linked to political behaviour. Our results are consistent with this: a standard deviation difference in occupational automation risk in 2003 is associated with 1.4 percentage points reduced turnout in 2017, but only for men. The association is smaller in regions where the populist right is stronger, consistent with mobilization on economic grievances, but our analysis of a priming survey experiment does not support this interpretation. Our results imply that automation has contributed to the reversal of the traditional gender gap in turnout. We also discuss implications for political behaviour following recent developments in AI.
|5. Red Colossus: How Ideological Flexibility Allowed The Chinese Communist Party To Save Its Leninist Leviathan
Noah Prill (San Diego State University)
This paper examines how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has maintained its Marxist-Leninist Maoist leviathan through the strategic utilization of ideological flexibility needed to adapt to shifting Chinese and global conditions. The CCP’s leviathan of maintaining social order survived through a series of careful ideological modifications to Mao Zedong Thought through efforts of radical yet inclusive institutionalization promoted under the reform era led by China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. These reforms allowed for experimentation with private markets, straying from Mao's original principles, and proved vital in reestablishing the CCP's legitimacy following the chaos of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Initially, the CCP overlooked the emergence of corruption in pursuit of political stability and economic development. However, public frustration grew as grievances, including unemployment and repression, were ignored. The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests revealed the urgency of maintaining economic reform while stifling political reform in trying to prevent democratization. This approach, however, undermined the development of enduring institutions. Subsequent leadership during the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao years witnessed ongoing corruption and fragmentation of ideological legitimacy. In response, Xi Jinping, raised during the Cultural Revolution, has sought to restore coherence and order by integrating traditional elements of Mao Zedong Thought with his national priorities. Xi's consolidation of power, including an unprecedented third term as General-Secretary, has raised concerns about the repressive nature of his regime. His confrontational stance against rivals, especially the United States, in the name of national security, and purging political opposition through his campaign against corruption, has sparked debates about the resemblance of his rule to Mao's. My paper critically analyzes the evolution of the CCP's ideological flexibility from Deng to Xi, its impact on governance, and its implications for China's domestic and international landscape. It underscores the challenges and complexities inherent in maintaining a one-party dictatorship while pursuing economic prosperity and national security in a rapidly changing world.
|PANEL 5.2 Connecting Citizens to the State: The administrative state in the Age of democratic turbulence
15:45 - 17:30
Chair and Discussant: Martin Lodge
|1. Maintaining Montesquieu: Reconnecting the legal administrative state to citizens through collaborative incrementalism
Are Vegard Haug (Oslo Metropolitan University), Nick Sitter (Norwegian Business School)
The twin challenges of populism and identity politics have ushered in an age of ‘administrative turbulence’, in the sense that citizens in many European countries have become less satisfied with the way their administrative states operate. Political legitimacy is not only about political input, transparent processes, and policy performance; it is also about upholding trust in the machinery of government in an age of rapid change and multiple crises. In this paper we ask two questions about the connection between the administrative states and citizens. First, what is the current status of legitimacy and trust in the institutions of the legal administrative state in Europe? To answer this, we analyze data from the European Social Survey. Second, what measures have been developed and applied (successfully) to maintain trust in an era of rapid change and an accumulation of multiple new challenges? To answer this, we dig deeper into the Norwegian case and assess recent selected examples of reforms designed for better reconnection between the legal administrative state and the citizen. The main findings are that successful efforts to reconnect the legal administrative state and citizens typically involve incremental changes, and collaborative actor constellation across silos and sectors.
|2. Regional Consumer Authorities in Spain: Building Consumer Protection Coalitions with and without Citizens
Jacint Jordana (Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals / Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Joaquín Rozas (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Juan Carlos Triviño-Salazar (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
The Spanish consumer protection regime places regional public bodies in a crucial position to control and sanction wrongdoings but also connecting with organized societal interests and citizens in general. In this context, consumer public bodies can be understood as institutionalized distrust bodies, designed to overcome problems of collective action among consumers while fostering trustful attitudes in market interactions. In our paper, we look into the Spanish regional level and ask the following questions: to what extent and how consumer protection public bodies connect and interact with organized societal interests. Taking the work by Gunnar Trumbull (2012) as our starting point, we aim to identify the type of coalition (relying on interactions between the state, civil society and industry) that has been prevalent at the Spanish regional level in recent times to support consumer public policy. We believe that by examining the nature and characteristics of consumer authorities operating in Spain regarding participation of societal interests, we will be able to obtain evidence on different coalitions favoring different interests across sectors and territories with different economic configurations. To operationalize our questions, we follow a mixed methodology strategy. First, we introduce two different datasets on Spanish consumer authorities related to (a) the institutional design of consumer authorities in Spain across sectors and territories and (b) biographical characteristics of public bodies’ members in governing or advisory boards as well as managerial staff. Second, we do in-depth interviews with public bodies and consumer associations’ representatives and secondary documents (public reports and academic documents) on their interactions in consumer protection at the regional level. We expect our findings to contribute to the relationship between the regulatory state and citizens in the field of consumer protection and at the regional level in multilevel contexts with different administrative configurations.
|3. A Citizen Re-Connect? Comparing dynamics in citizen-administrative state encounters
Martin Lodge (Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, London School of Economics), Christel Koop (King’s College London), David Wilson (Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, London School of Economic)
One of the key challenges facing contemporary liberal democracy is the diagnosed disconnect between citizens and the state. This paper explores the extent to which contemporary administrative states have sought to ‘re-connect’ with their citizens in innovative ways. In view of three decades of mangerialism, a sustained period of austerity following the financial crisis, and growing voter polarisation, this paper explores the extent to which administrative state responses have sought a re- or disconnect, facing in particular on the ways in which different ‘tools of government’ have been utilised. The paper, drawing on comparative European experiences but facing in particular on the UK, explore different dynamics in the area of access to justice and unemployment benefits in particular. Whereas the former has been characterised by limited interest in citizen ‘connect’ and thereby has enhanced ‘disconnect’, changes in the welfare state were - despite their controversial nature - driven by an agenda seeking to create a particular type of citizen connect. These experiences, in turn, contrast considerably to changes observed in economic regulation. Based on documentary and interview-based research, this paper explores explanations for these contrasting ways in which citizen ‘connection’ with the administrative state has been sought.
|PANEL 5.3 Challenges to Democratic Governance in the EU Judicial System
09:00 - 10:45
Chair: Henning Finseraas
Discussant: Martin Westlund
|1. Judicial Ideology at the European Court of Justice. Evidence from the Attitudes at the ECJ Survey (AECS)
Henning Deters (University of Vienna), Moritz Klock (University of Vienna)
Compared to other international courts, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has an extraordinarily powerful position, and its political impact is comparable to that of domestic constitutional courts. Yet due to the lack of dissenting opinions and public votes, little is known about the ideal points held by ECJ judges. To overcome this hurdle, we surveyed experts of European law for their perception of the orientations held by ECJ judges on three dimensions pertinent for the European judicial policy space: Supranationalism, market intervention, and judicial liberalism. The paper presents first descriptive evidence for the ideal points of most ECJ judges appointed in the past 20 years. It discusses some methodological challenges we are confronted with when basing judicial ideal points on expert estimates. Finally, we examine the extent of ideological congruence between individual judges and the member state governments that nominated them.
|2. Just to be clear? European Parliament position-taking and public opinion
Aleksandra Khokhlova (Leiden University), Anastasia Ershova ( Queen’s University Belfast), Nikoleta Yordanova ( Leiden University) (EUINACTION)
The European Parliament has a treaty mandate to represent the will of EU citizens. However, we have little understanding of whether and how the EP reacts to public opinion during the legislative process. In this paper, we analyze whether and, if so, when citizens’ opinion affects the clarity of position that the EP presents in its negotiations with the Council of Ministers. We argue that when public opinion on EU policy integration across the EU member states is divided, the EP will draw less concrete amendments to the Commission’s proposals. In contrast, when the views of EU citizens are more united, the EP will use more concrete language. In this way, it can strike a balance between acting as a competent legislature with a strong position in inter-institutional bargaining in the face of united public opinion and avoiding an image of being disconnected from EU citizens given a divided public. Such strategic position-taking is more likely with respect to legislative proposals with higher integration potential and public salience. To test our arguments, we measure the ambiguity of the EPs’ initial negotiation positions formulated in 2009-2019 using dictionary-based content analysis. We draw on the Eurobarometer indicators to capture polarization of EU citizens’ opinions and policy salience. This paper contributes to the study of law-making and democratic deficit in the EU.
|3. Negotiating European Integration: Council Responsiveness to Public Opinion
Nikoleta Yordanova ( Leiden University), Anastasia Ershova ( Queen's University Belfast), Aleksandra Khokhlova (Leiden University) (EUINACTION)
The Council of Ministers, representing the member state governments in EU law-making, has long operated away from public scrutiny. However, the enhanced transparency of its decision-making over the last two decades has subjected it to the public purview. Simultaneously, the increased contestation of European integration has put an end to citizens' permissive consensus for elites to shape the nature, direction and speed of integration. We argue that these developments have incentivized electorally accountable ministers and, consequently, the Council to be more attentive to the citizens' policy preferences over EU policy action. We further expect more responsiveness of the Council's position to public opinion in the member state, in which citizens view a given policy as more salient and are relatively united in their support for or opposition to further EU action in that policy. Focusing on legislative negotiations in the post-Lisbon period (2009-2020), we estimate the Council's level of support for the expansion of the EU policy authority in individual acts using semi-supervised machine learning. To capture the level of public support for EU policy action across member states, we rely on the Eurobarometer surveys. The findings confirm our expectations and offer further evidence for the model of territorial representation in the EU.
|4. Is it all Cheap Talk?: The effects of international climate agreements on domestic political debates
Patrick Bayer (University of Glasgow), Zachary Greene (University of Strathclyde), Christine Sylvester (University of Strathclyde) (EUINACTION)
Critics often decry the absence of decisive political action following international climate talks. They contend that politicians’ international pledges are often cheap talk with little bearing on domestic action. Building on an original conceptual and empirical framework we hypothesize that countries more reliant on carbon intensive industries will see issues related to their pledges become more salient in elite debates, and positions on these issues more polarized; in contrast, in those countries with greater use of renewables we expect to see increased salience in elite debates without increased disagreement. We test these expectations in 16 European countries, 2009-2019, with the ParlEE dataset, which is based on a supervised machine learning classification of issues and positions that identifies the salience of issues by speakers and changes in their positions over time. Consistent with a more optimistic perspective that international pledges are not just cheap talk, our analysis indicates a clear shift in the salience and position of national parties following the announcement of the 2015 Paris Agreement. These results hold implications for studies linking international agreements to domestic politics and the consequences thereof for national decision-making as well as for domestic political studies of party and governmental position-taking.
|5. The Role of Superior Courts in Democratic Erosion and Resilience: Evidence from Venezuela and Colombia
Farah Adeed (Boston University, USA), Saleha Anwar (San Diego State University, USA)
Why are leaders in some developing countries able to erode democracy and not in others? This paper proposes a new theory centered around the judicial landscape, arguing that the fate of democracy often hinges on the political leanings of supreme or constitutional courts. In scenarios where these courts embrace pro-democracy stances, they serve as bulwarks against authoritarian advances, effectively curbing attempts to undermine democratic norms. Conversely, in countries where courts exhibit partisanship—either through overt support for ruling parties or a guise of neutrality that belies a pro-government bias—or through judicial silence on critical political matters, democratic principles falter. The paper delineates two primary modalities through which courts facilitate democratic erosion: firstly, by legitimizing the ruling party's authority through biased rulings, thereby paving the way for extended terms and significant democratic setbacks; and secondly, through inaction, where courts abstain from adjudicating pivotal political disputes, indirectly sanctioning the ruling party's agenda. Employing a qualitative structured comparative analysis, this paper juxtaposes the experiences of Venezuela and Colombia—countries sharing similar political contexts but diverging in democratic trajectories. The findings of this study extend beyond these cases, offering insights relevant to other developing democracies like Pakistan and India. It underscores the critical need for integrating pro-democracy judges into the judiciary, arguing that such appointments are pivotal for safeguarding democracy against the tide of religious populism and bolstering institutional trust.