024 Civil Society and Democratization II: Consolidation in Southern and Eastern Europe Compared

Civil Society and Democratization: Transition and Consolidation in Southern and Eastern Europe Compared
Tuesday, June 25, 2013: 11:00 AM-12:45 PM
C0.17 (Oudemanhuispoort)
Grzegorz Ekiert (Harvard), Jan Kubik (Rutgers), Michal Wenzel (Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities), Civil Society in Poland after the Fall of Communism: a Diachronic Perspective (1989-2009)

We argue that the the weakness of civil society after the fall of state socialism is overstated, at least in the case of Poland.  Our findings are based on a  database that is more extensive (20 years), multi-dimesional, and fine-grained than those used in other studies. We employ a diachronic perspective to avoid generalizations based on a limited set of observations of static situations. We argue that the broadly accepted generalization portraying civil society under communism as non-existent, inconsequential or barren is overstated.We place contentious politics, an area of civil society activity often absent from standard studies of the topic, at the center of our analysis.

 Rui Branco and Tiago Fernandes (New University of Lisbon), Civil Society and the Quality of Democracy: Portugal, 1974 – 2010

This paper studies the relationship between civil society and the quality of democracy in Portugal. While democratization reduced constraints on civil society, from the perspective of the quality of democracy we see a more nuanced picture. Whereas unions and cooperatives declined, neighborhood associations were stable, and parents, tudents’ and women’s associations expanded. The decline in the first dimension was inherited from the dictatorship which was strongly hostile to labor.  Once democracy began to operate both the political center and left promoted policies that empowered civil society which helps to explain growth in other dimensions.

Bela Greskovits (Central European University), Jason Wittenberg (Berkeley), Civil Society and Democratic Consolidation: Hungary in the 1990s and 2000s

Using data on social protest the paper demonstrates that after the collapse of communism the development of civil society has been asymmetric, Left-liberal actors, which due to inherited strengths were ibetter endowed organizationally and ideationally, lost their dominance in civil society. Conversely, actors on the Right have eroded their initial disadvantage in social embeddedness and eventually came to set the terms of civil organization and protest.  The paper elaborates how these dynamics have interfered with the processes of democratic consolidation, specifically how rightist practices of bypassing parliament by direct mobilization of the masses challenges the results of democratic elections and undermines trust in democratic institutions.

Dimitri Sotiropoulos (Athens), Civil society in Greece before and after the economic crisis

Until 2010, when the crisis erupted, Greek civil society was dependent on the state and political parties. However, some professional associations and public sector unions had succeeded in capturing the policy sectors in which they were involved. In the wake of austerity, unions and associations mobilized against the government in defense of their interests. Additionally, Informal social movements sprang quickly up and posed challenges to both policies and institutions. The strengthening of civil society did not necessarily lead to an improvemein din the quality of democracy due to the prevalence of atypical, often violent, forms of political participation.

Chair:
Mark Beissinger
Discussants:
Nancy Bermeo and Grigore Pop-Eleches
Civil Society in Poland after the Fall of Communism: a Diachronic Perspective (1989-2009)
Grzegorz Ekiert, Harvard; Jan Kubik, Rutgers University; Michal Wenzel, Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Civil Society and the Quality of Democracy: Portugal, 1974 2010
Tiago Fernandes, New University of Lisbon; Rui Branco, New University of Lisbon
Civil Society and Democratic Consolidation: Hungary in the 1990s and 2000s
Bela Greskovits, Central European University; Jason Wittenberg, University of California, Berkeley
Civil society in Greece before and after the economic crisis
Dimitrios A. Sotiropoulos, University of Athens