Several member states of the European Union (EU) have seen shorter or longer episodes of democratic backsliding in recent years: governments have sought to curb the independence of the media, they have introduced electoral laws that disadvantage opposition parties, they have questioned the independence of the judiciary, and they have introduced other measures that might be seen as violations of the principles of democracy and the rule of law.
In this seminar, we will tackle three main questions:
(1) Where can we find indications of democratic backsliding in the EU, both in the obvious cases of Hungary and Poland but also beyond that?
(2) How can we explain democratic backsliding? What is different between the backsliding countries and the other, comparable countries?
(3) What can be done to tackle democratic backsliding? What is the role of the EU in combatting democratic backsliding, and does the EU need major reforms to fight democratic backsliding more effectively?
The seminar will be done in a mixture of reading and discussing theoretical literature about democracy and the reasons for democratic backsliding and empirical work of small student groups about specific sub-topics of the overall seminar theme.
In order to pass the seminar, students are required to prepare the reading assignments, participate in one of the student research groups, and write a term paper based on the results of the research projects.
Kelemen, R. Daniel (2020) The European Union’s Authoritarian Equilibrium. Journal of European Public Policy 27(3): 481–499.
Sitter, Nick and Bakke, Elisabeth (2019) Democratic Backsliding in the European Union. In: Thompson, William R. (ed.) Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics: Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.1476.