Italian Politics Specialist Group Conference: European Democracy under Stress
European democracies are under pressure. The rise of alternative left and right political parties and new populist parties, discontent with traditional ‘slow’ political processes and growing preferences among citizens for internet and social media-driven movements and the increasing success of ‘antipolitics’ rhetoric have seen politicians across European liberal democracies struggle to retain their relevance in an increasingly globalised, fast-paced social and economic world. Moreover, European leaders are facing increasing difficulties to deal with a growing confluence of crises, including an unprecedented influx of refugees, discontent at harsh austerity measures imposed on EU member states, and more broadly dissatisfaction with the European integration project. This is clearly manifested in the growth of euro-sceptic parties and anti-EU feelings even in traditionally ‘Europhile’ countries, and in the recent ‘Brexit’ referendum in the UK. The dynamics and forms of these pressures are multidimensional and compound: they have different roots and have taken different paths across Europe, and yet they converge in challenging political structures and the very institution of democracy.
The aim of this conference is to offer a distinctive approach in capturing such complexity, inviting contributions from scholars across Europe that will:
Against this background, we welcome contributions that address (but are not necessarily limited to) the following issues looking at how they vary across Europe, and emerging challenges and ways forward:
- Political parties and their adaptive reactions – with a focus on populism, anti-politics and detachment from politics, personalization and changes in party’s relationship with citizens, as well as party’s organizational changes and reforms.
- Institutional changes in times of ‘democratic crisis’ – with a focus on responsiveness, responsibility and accountability, institutional reforms, multi-level governance and centre-periphery cleavages.
- The EU after the crisis – with a focus on EU politicization, Euroscepticism, dynamics of interaction between EU and domestic agendas, the future of the integration process, role of external and internal pressures (e.g. economic, migration and security crises).
- Reshaping the idea of democracy – with a focus on new forms of political participation, digital democracy, citizens engagement, media and new media, as well as on more theoretical aspects of the debate, looking at how key concepts/motifs underpinning this latter are being redefined in the current context.
Paper proposals (max. 300 word) should be submitted by Monday 3 October 2016 via email to Arianna Giovannini, Laura Polverari and Antonella Seddone.
We are delighted to announce that the event will open with a keynote speech by Professor Simona Piattoni (University of Trento), which will assess the theme of the conference. Scholars from the Department of Culture, Politics and Society at the University of Turin will also contribute to the event delivering an interactive workshop on ‘Democracy in Action’, which will draw on and bring insights from the work they have conducted in the city of Turin and across the region.
Professor Alfio Mastropaolo (University of Turin) will open a round-table discussion with invited international speakers entitled ‘European Democracy Under Pressure: lessons from comparative analysis’ at the end of the second day. Policy-makers, practitioners, and civil society groups as well as journalists will also be invited.
Attendance to the conference will be free of charge but registration will be required (details on how to register will be provided in due course).