Disruption, Crisis, Opportunity: Whither Democratic Governance?

Conference organised jointly by the

RC14 Politics and Ethnicity, RC28 Comparative Federalism and Multilevel Governance, RC13 Democratization in Comparative Perspective, RC08 Legislative Specialists, RC30 Comparative Public Policy

Brussels (TBC), 14 – 17 December 2020

This conference will bring together a number of IPSA research committees to reflect upon and examine the challenges faced by democracies in the light of a sequence of interrelated political, economic, social disruptions.

Over the past two decades, European societies have experienced a series of disruptions to what was at the time perceived as the regular way of life: COVID-19 pandemic, UK’s departure from the EU, the so-called refugee crisis, financial crisis, increasing mobility of labour across the EU, EU enlargement, and 9/11, to name but a few. What have international organisations, national, regional, local level authorities innovated in response to acute challenges; and have these actually made a difference in dealing with these different challenges? How have democratic institutions responded to citizens’ needs?

The conference will provide an opportunity to examine the role of local, national, regional, and international actors in the changing role of democratic governance over the past two decades. As we are entering an unchartered territory of political and societal response to the ongoing pandemic, some of the changes to our everyday interactions are plain to see already: Despite widespread concern about increasing reliance on digital technology over face-to-face communications, the period of lockdown has underlined the value of live communications between people. At the same time, whereas the value of face-to-face meetings is out of question, teleconferencing has become widely accepted as a way to hold official meetings from small research teams to the EU Commission. This is likely to have an impact on the frequency of travel, availability of and cost of transport, that is for those companies that will be likely to evade bankruptcy. The overall emphasis on economic competitiveness of national economies aside, the EU’s economic integration is likely to shift into further areas of cooperation, such as provisions of healthcare, coordinating supply chains and service delivery to citizens and long-term residents, as we witness in response to the pandemic. However, as countries in Europe have closed their borders, there are also some serious questions being asked about the long-term impact and sustainability of the European integration project.

We welcome contributions that focus on moments of disruption to the “European way of life” as critical junctures in policy, political and institutional developments across Europe, and as such have had ripples across the globe. Moreover, the US under President Trump, Russia under President Putin, and countries in the Global South have had to develop their own coping strategies to the current crisis. How has this affected their governance mechanisms, institutions and political elites? Has there been a substantial impact on the role of trust that citizens have in their elites? Are we witnessing an authoritarian revival in the wake of the current pandemic, as some have predicted, quoting Hungary and Israel as examples? To what extent has the current crisis, and previous crises, exposed state weakness in parts of the world, and how have regional and international organisations reacted?

Papers that focus on the social, economic and legal challenges posed by crises, past and ongoing, how they have affected or are likely to affect the future direction of politics in diverse settings are particularly welcome. We welcome proposals that develop case studies or compare the effects of crises on popular societal response, policy change, political innovation, institutional design, and/or accommodation of novel approaches to delivering governance in response to ongoing pandemic.

Given that the conference will be convened at the end of year 2020, the year which will no doubt allow some re-evaluation of policy response to the major public health emergence in our lifetime, we will continue to keep applicants updated on the progress of organisation throughout in reflecting on the developing circumstances.

We invite proposals for individual paper contributions and/or panels that engage empirically, conceptually and normatively with these issues. We aim to feature the best of contemporary research on democratic governance under conditions of uncertainty or galvanised by moments of radical and unanticipated challenge, including new research by established academics as well as by early career scholars.

Proposals for papers should include contact details of the author(s), title and an abstract of no more than 200 words.

Panel proposals must include:

· A minimum of three papers and a maximum of four

· Contact details for all paper-givers, the discussant and chair

· Panel title and short description of panel (no more than 200 words)

· Individual paper titles and short abstract (no more than 100 words)

The final deadline for the electronic submission of paper and panel proposals is 23:59 Brussels time, June 30 2020. Notices of acceptance will be sent out the week of July 13 2020. Proposals should be submitted online at: https://form.jotform.com/tagarin/disrupt

All participants will be required to register for the conference. IPSA has implemented a new category of membership for citizens from low and lower-middle income countries; the list of eligible countries can be found here: https://www.ipsa.org/membership/individual/global_south_category . Please self-identify at the time of registration.

Early Bird Registration Fees (before October 1 2020):

Faculty Rate: Non-member 100 €; Member 80 €; Member from Global South 60 €

Student Rate: Non-member 60 €; Member 50 €; Member from Global South 40€

Participants from institutions in the Global South, as well as participants without presentation: 50€

After October 1 2020, the student rate will be raised by 20 € and by 40 € for the remaining categories. The cost of the conference dinner is 35 € and should be paid at the time of registration.

The organizers will endeavor to provide a select pool of graduate students/early career academics with a bursary to partially cover travel expenses to the location of the conference. Please identify your eligibility and if you wish to be considered for the bursary at the time of your submission. The decision on the pool of recipients will be made in August 2020.

Alongside the academic panels, our colloquium will feature a series of roundtables sponsored by the individual research committees.