Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN32_10b_IC: Open Stream I
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Virginie Van Ingelgom, Université catholique de Louvain
Location: Intercontinental - Ypsilon III
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Level 1

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Social Mobility and Political Distrust. Cults of Gratitude and Resentment?

Stijn Daenekindt1,2, Jeroen Van Der Waal2, Willem De Koster2

1Ghent University, Belgium; 2Erasmus University Rotterdam

Various studies have observed a decline in political trust in Western countries. To improve our understanding of this trend, we study whether and how social mobility affects political distrust. Mobile individuals may blame/praise the system for their movement down/up the social ladder. Accordingly, we theorize that social mobility influences the way people evaluate the political system. We use Dutch survey data (NELLS; n = 5,312) and apply Diagonal Reference Models to study effects of educational mobility. We consider distrust of government/public authorities and of politics, and find that — controlling for the influence of social positions of origin and destination — downward social mobility results in higher levels of distrust. We argue that downward mobility is perceived from a structural rather than an individualistic perspective, and thus has a greater impact (compared to upward mobility) on attitudes towards the system and politics. These findings evidence the political consequences of social mobility and highlight that there is a need to consider socializing experiences outside the political domain and after early childhood to explain political trust. Moreover, our findings suggests that the difference between individualistic and structural narratives on social position needs to be integrated into theoretical frameworks to explain political distrust.

The impact of economic uncertainess on turnout: national differences and the rule of moderators

Dario Tuorto1, Matteo Bassoli2, Pasquale Colloca1

1University of Bologna, Italy; 2eCampus University, Italy

Turnout in Western countries has registered a sharp decline during the last four decades, reaching the lowest level in the 2014 European elections. At the same time, several studies conducted in recent years observed that non-voting has become more unequal in its social and geographical distribution. In many countries - and especially in the Southern European countries - the economic crisis, together with an unclear political setting, exacerbated the diffusion of negative feelings such as detachment, distrust, and disaffection among the most vulnerable sectors of the electorate. This climate has fostered the growth and the success of new political actors, the “anti-establishment parties”, able to occupy the space of radical protest against the forces of the “old politics” and, under certain conditions, draining votes from the abstention. However, the relationship between economic worsening, political discontent and turnout, both at individual and at aggregate level, remains unclear.

The paper, exploiting a multi-level analysis, aims to explore the relationship between turnout and different dimensions related to subjective condition (occupational status, income loss, retrospective/prospective evaluations of the national economy, etc.), vis-à-vis the potential moderator effect of the relationship present at the national level (party system, welfare model, etc.). Data are taken from 2014 Voter Study as a part of the European Election Studies programme. This post-election survey was carried out covering around 30,000 cases, with 1,100 interviews in each European country.

Politics as Fiduciary Relationships: Catch-all Parties or Class Parties in the Political Making of a Post-crash Europe? A Comparative Study of PSOE and Podemos

Julio Martínez-Cava

University of Barcelona, Spain

The economic and institutional crisis of the Eurozone has blown up the framework of post-war political party regimes. The polarizing dynamics crossing Europe have broken the conditions of economic-political stability that allowed: (i) the famous distribution of preferences in a dromedary form (concentrated in the centre) and (ii) the famous catch-all electioneering dynamics used by the majority parties in a two-party system. What kind of parties can survive in the new times and what kind would be desirable? Is it possible to update the old form of the class-mass party in 21st century conditions? Outsider rhetoric, funding not depending on large economic powers, close relationships with social movements or new forms of political participation (such as the election of all offices through open primary elections or the plebiscite’s logic): are these features sufficient for the success of new democratic parties? This paper is a research on the transformations of the organizational models of the main progressive state-parties in Spain (PSOE and Podemos) in the light of the theory of political power as fiduciary relationships. This perspective applied to the parties conceives membership as sovereign power (trustee) and party positions or public offices as fiduciary agents (trust). Can the parties seeking a democratic solution to the Eurozone crisis solve the situation without changing the tools that led to it?

Clientelism in the Age of State Capture: A View on the Western Balkans

Misha Popovikj1, Predrag Cveticanin2, Marija Stefanovic3

1Institute for Democracy 'Societas Civilis' Skopje, Macedonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of; 2Faculty of Arts, University of Nis, Serbia (PhD); 3Faculty of Philosophy, University of Nis (MA student)

The particularistic mode of governance (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2005) and the elaborate power networks (Ledeneva, 2013) of political parties have brought the Western Balkan countries to the status of state capture (SELDI, 2016). This means that public institutions predominantly work for the private interest of the political parties in power, helping them maintain advantage and win elections mainly by establishing and maintaining client relations with the citizens. By combining quantitative research (population survey - 6200 respondents) and qualitative research (in-depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork), this study explores the informal parallelism that political parties establish in various segments of public service such as employment, social work, education or health care. We argue that the combination of the diverse membership of political parties, and the organizational structure brought by their developed informal network of patrons and clients, substitutes the roles of formal institutions in all these fields (Helmke & Levitsky, 2004).

This study contributes comparatively to studies of clientelism in other regions. Furthermore, it elaborates the notion of relational clientelism (Keefer, 2004; Kitschelt, 2000; Kitschelt & Wilkinson, 2007) as a long-standing relationship between patrons and clients in relation to reaching state capture. We argue that these client transactions generate pools of loyalty within many pockets of public institutions, enabling informal networks to redistribute public goods in such a particularistic manner.

This article is based on the Horizon 2020 research “Closing the Gap between Formal and Informal Institution in the Balkans” (2016 – 2019) which is being carried out in Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.

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