September 15, 2016

Book Announcement: Jan-Werner Müller, What Is Populism? (Penn 2016)


Network member Jan-Werner Müller (Princeton) announces a new book from University of Pennsylvania Press, entitled "What Is Populism?"  In an analysis described by Dani Rodrik as "masterful," the new volume sets out to untangle the concept of populism, to map its relationship to pluralism and authoritarianism, and to set out strategies for response to populist movements.  The publisher's blurb follows; the book can be ordered here.

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Donald Trump, Silvio Berlusconi, Marine Le Pen, Hugo Chávez—populists are on the rise across the globe. But what exactly is populism? Should everyone who criticizes Wall Street or Washington be called a populist? What precisely is the difference between right-wing and left-wing populism? Does populism bring government closer to the people or is it a threat to democracy? Who are "the people" anyway and who can speak in their name? These questions have never been more pressing.

In this groundbreaking volume, Jan-Werner Müller argues that at populism's core is a rejection of pluralism. Populists will always claim that they and they alone represent the people and their true interests. Müller also shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, populists can govern on the basis of their claim to exclusive moral representation of the people: if populists have enough power, they will end up creating an authoritarian state that excludes all those not considered part of the proper "people." The book proposes a number of concrete strategies for how liberal democrats should best deal with populists and, in particular, how to counter their claims to speak exclusively for "the silent majority" or "the real people."

Analytical, accessible, and provocative, What Is Populism? is grounded in history and draws on examples from Latin America, Europe, and the United States to define the characteristics of populism and the deeper causes of its electoral successes in our time.

Kelemen and Blauberger on Democratic Backsliding

In a new article, out now with the Journal of European Public Policy, network member Dan Kelemen (Rutgers) and his co-author Michael Blauberger (Salzberg) examine the ways in which the European Union can serve as a bulwark against what the authors call "democratic backsliding."  Entitled "Introducing the debate: European Union safeguards against member states’ democratic backsliding," the piece explores the mechanisms available to the Union, their practical feasibility, and their implications.

The abstract follows; the article can be found here.


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Today, the European Union (EU) is confronting a new democratic deficit at the national level. A number of EU member states have experienced an erosion of democracy and the rule of law in recent years, most severely in Hungary and Poland. Drawing on different strands of political science research, the contributions to this section debate the strengths and weaknesses of the various safeguards and tactics the EU has deployed or might deploy to resist democratic backsliding by member governments. This brief introduction raises the main questions of the debate: how politically feasible is the application of existing and proposed EU safeguards, and what are the likely consequences, intended as well as unintended, of various judicial and political approaches?

September 4, 2016

Jan-Werner Müller in The Guardian on Populism

Network member Jan-Werner Müller (Princeton) has a new piece out in The Guardian.  In the article, entitled "Trump, Erdoğan, Farage: The attractions of populism for politicians, the dangers for democracy," Jan-Werner offers a thoughtful and incisive examination of the various forms of populism and the complex relationships between populism, democracy, and identity.  

The first paragraph follows; the full piece may be found here.

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After Brexit, and with a Trump victory in November still a possibility, liberals are in a panic about populism. They have struggled to comprehend what a figure like Trump is about ideologically – hence the enormous amount of ink spilt over the question of whether he is or isn’t a fascist – and the rather hapless attempt to coin the term “Trumpism” (Trump, you see, is really a representative of Trumpism). Alternatively, liberals have focused on actual Brexit and Trump supporters and jumped to conclusions about what they think and, especially, feel. As a result, the content of what, after all, is an “-ism” – that is to say, a political belief system – has become conflated with the supposed psychological states of its supporters, namely feelings of resentment and relative deprivation.

The piece continues here.

August 31, 2016

Dan Kelemen on "Poland's Constitutional Crisis: How the Law and Justice Party is Threatening Democracy"

Network member R. Daniel Kelemen (Rutgers) has alerted to his new piece in Foreign Affairs, entitled "Poland's Constitutional Crisis: How the Law and Justice Party is Threatening Democracy," which may be of interest to readers. The first paragraph is below and the remainder can be read here.

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After simmering for nine months, the tension between Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, is coming to a boil. The PiS government is attempting an unconstitutional takeover of the tribunal—ignoring its rulings, trying to pack it with new judges, and, most recently, threatening the head judge with prosecution. At stake are the survival of constitutional democracy and the rule of law in Poland. [continue reading here]

August 28, 2016

Gareth Davies on "Could It All Have Been Avoided? Brexit and Treaty-Permitted Restrictions on Movement of Workers"

Network member Gareth Davies (VU Amsterdam) has alerted us to a new blog post entitled "Could It All Have Been Avoided? Brexit and Treaty-Permitted Restrictions on Movement of Workers," which recently appeared on the European Law Blog. The opening paragraphs are below and the remainder can be read here.

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Of course, it wasn’t all about immigration. But that claimed flood of Eastern Europeans was certainly at the heart of the leave campaign, and, unusually for an immigration debate, it was their right to work in the UK that was the political issue: there were too many of them, they were pushing down wages, they were keeping the low-skilled native out of work, they were costing the government a fortune in in-work benefits, they were making towns and villages unrecognisable and alienating the more established inhabitants.

Whether or not they were true, a lot of these claims seemed to be shared by both sides. Cameron didn’t so much deny them, as offer counter-claims (but they do add to the economy) and promises of change (if you vote remain, we’ll have a new deal and be able to do something about it!).

So the question is this: if the government thought that free movement of workers was causing such terrible problems, why didn’t it impose restrictions years ago when the post-Enlargement flood was at its high point and the issue first became prominent? [continue reading here]

August 25, 2016

Dominik Steiger on Access to Social Benefits in the European Union

In this post, network member Dominik Steiger (Berlin) explores one of the most complex and controversial areas of EU law: access to social benefits.  Focusing on the apparent retreat from the aggressive position staked out by the Court in the Grzelczyk case, Steiger identifies and explores an apparent conflict between national solidarity and European identity.


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Cutting Back on Equal Access to Social Benefits for EU Foreigners: National Solidarity vs. European Identity

European solidarity and national identity alike have been put to the test during recent years, especially during the banking and state debt crisis. In these days, Europe was on the verge of breaking apart. Angela Merkel appeared to complain about “lazy Greeks” and Greeks marched in the streets showing pictures of her as a Nazi. It took many legal documents and even more late-night sessions in Brussels, but Europe managed to handle the crisis. It rescued the banking system and the states alike – and, at least for the time being, European solidarity prevailed, even if states had to give up on some of the principles that they like to think to form part of their national identity.

August 24, 2016

Book Announcement: Interparliamentary Cooperation in the Composite European Constitution (Nicola Lupo and Cristina Fasone, eds.)


Network member Nicola Lupo (LUISS), together with Cristina Fasone (also LUISS), have alerted us that their new edited volume Interparliamentary Cooperation in the Composite European Constitution has now appeared from Hart. Below is the publisher's blurb and more information, including the Table of Contents (noting several contributions by other network members), can be found here. Hart has graciously offered readers a 20 per cent discount if they choose to purchase (see here -- use code CV7 at checkout to get the discount).

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This collection analyses the place and the functioning of interparliamentary cooperation in the EU composite constitutional order, taking into account both the European and the national dimensions. The chapters join the recent scholarship on the role of parliaments in the EU after the Treaty of Lisbon.The aim of this volume is to highlight the constitutional significance of interparliamentary cooperation as a permanent feature of EU democracy and as a new parliamentary function as well as to investigate the practical side of this relatively new phenomenon. To this end the contributors are academics and parliamentary officials from all over Europe.

The volume discusses the developments in interparliamentary cooperation and its implications for the organisation and procedures of national parliaments and the European Parliament, for the fragmented executive of the EU, and for the democratic legitimacy of the overall EU composite Constitution. These issues are examined by looking at the European legislative process, the European Semester and the Treaty revisions. Moreover, the contributions take into account the effects of interparliamentary cooperation on the internal structure of parliaments and analyse the different models of interparliamentary cooperation, ie from COSAC to the new Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the European Union provided by the Fiscal Compact.

July 22, 2016

Turkuler Isiksel on the Turkish Coup and Its Aftermath

Network member Turkuler Isiksel (Columbia) was born in Turkey but left to attend university in Edinburgh, later receiving her Ph.D. from Yale. She recently gave an interview to the Columbia News, entitled "5 Questions on the Unrest in Turkey", which may be of interest to the readers. The first Q&A is excerpted below and the remainder of the interview can be found here.

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 Q. Turkey has had a number of coups since 1960. What makes this latest one stand out from the others?

A. There have been two direct military takeovers of the government, in 1960 and 1980, and two ultimatums issued by the military that brought down the elected governments of the time in 1971 and 1997. Each must be understood in context, but they all reflect the Turkish military’s self-understanding as the guarantor of the republic established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk [Turkey’s first president, from 1923-1938.] In each instance, coup leaders viewed themselves as empowered to decide when the republic was in danger and how it needed to be defended, even if they had no legal authority to step in. Unlike those four instances, however, the July 15th coup attempt appears to be the work of a rogue clique within the military. [continue reading here]

June 29, 2016

Dan Kelemen in Foreign Affairs on Brexit: London Falling

Network member Dan Kelemen (Rutgers) has a great piece out in Foreign Affairs on the impact and causes of Brexit: the UK's "historic act of self-harm."  Entitled London Falling, it is available in full here (free registration required).  The first two paragraphs follow.

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In a historic act of self-harm, the British electorate has chosen to leave the European Union. Brexit—as it is called—will do severe damage to the United Kingdom’s economy and its strategic interests. Brexit will also deal a heavy blow to the project of European integration. The EU will survive, but it will never be the same. Leaders of far-right parties across Europe cheered the referendum result, as did Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s allies shuddered, and financial markets in the country and across the world plummeted.

With negotiations beginning over the terms of the United Kingdom’s departure, much is uncertain. But one thing is clear already: the Leave campaign’s claim that the EU had robbed the United Kingdom of its sovereignty was false. If nothing else, the vote shows that the country was sovereign all along and that it was free to make disastrous decisions.

The piece continues here.

June 28, 2016

Herwig Hofmann on "First steps after the UK referendum on Brexit"

With the continuing fallout from the UK's Brexit referendum last week, there has been a great deal of speculation about what happens next.  In this timely contribution, network member Herwig Hofmann (Luxembourg) offers his own thoughtful take, with particular focus on the legal framework governing Article 50 TEU, its intersection with the UK constitution, and EU reforms to enhance democratic legitimacy.

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The result of the question whether the UK should remain a member or leave the European Union, which was put before the UK electorate following a leadership crises in the British conservative party, is now known. Important parts of the UK voted to stay, notably Scotland, Northern Ireland and London. But on a rainy day, the slim majority of just over a million individuals or under two per cent of those eligible to vote however elected to opt for Brexit. This majority was largely made up by those above fifty, not the young. Over 50% of voters aged under fifty voted to stay.

Ever since, uncertainty about the proper way forward is part of the lives of the over five hundred million citizens of the EU and, of course, any politician or more generally, any decision-maker. The issues involved are so complex, and the consequences so difficult to assess not just with regard to their outcome for any citizen and any individual country or part of it, but for Europe as a whole and even globally, that a calm and collected response is necessary.

But in spite of all the uncertainty created, in assessing the situation, one fact is rather telling. Those who cheered the UK result were the likes of Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders. Outside of Europe, this list also included Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.  None of the above is known to campaign on platforms interested in individual rights or for their commitment to open and tolerant societies.

Should then, in this complex situation, a fast break-up be pursued? Should the official way to doing so, the procedure established in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union be set in motion with the result that UK membership in the EU would automatically end two years after notification? Tellingly, Article 50 of the Treaty reminds us that the decision to withdraw from the European Union should be made by any Member State in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. The reason is clear, the decision to leave the EU is a decision with fundamental constitutional implications for both the withdrawing country and the EU as a whole.