The Democratic Separatism - Theorizing this Modern-Day Phenomenon in Industrial States
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt
Obwohl Sezessionen mit enormen politischen, ökonomischen und gesellschaftlichen Unsicherheiten verbunden sind, feiern seit mehreren Jahren weltweit separatistische Parteien beachtliche Wahlerfolge. In meiner Doktorarbeit werde ich deshalb analysieren, unter welchen Bedingungen separatistische Parteien in wohlhabenden Demokratien erfolgreich sind.
Dabei werde ich neben den bekannten Fällen wie Katalonien, Schottland oder Flandern auch weniger bekannte Regionen wie Grönland, Sardinien oder Puerto Rico untersuchen. So erhalte ich ein ganzheitliches Bild des neuartigen "demokratischen Separatismus", der parlamentarisch und gewaltfrei ausgetragen wird. Bei einer Fallzahl von rund 50 Parteien sowie einer fall- und Y-orientierten Vorgehensweise werde ich eine Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) durchführen. Bei den zu untersuchenden Variablen werde ich eine Kombination aus Crisp- und Fuzzy-Sets anwenden.
Zu jedem Fall werde ich zudem einen kurzen Bericht schreiben, der detailliertere Informationen bereithält und den Status der einzelnen Unabhängigkeitskonflikte als "cases with capital letters" sichert. Am Ende werde ich die Fälle miteinander vergleichen und die wichtigsten Erfolgsbedingungen herausarbeiten. Das Ziel besteht darin, eine eigenständige Separatismus-Theorie zu den Erfolgsbedingungen separatistischer Parteien in wohlhabenden Demokratien zu entwickeln.
Local Policy Experimentation: An “Innovative” Way For Local Governments to Respond to Protest in China?
Greater China Studies
I am writing a PhD under the Chair of Greater China Studies at the University of Tübingen. Before coming to Germany, I worked for a unit of the Chinese government as part of a ‘local policy experiment’. Local policy experimentation has long been an integral part of the Chinese policy-making process. Some suggest that China’s experimental policy process is responsible for the country’s economic miracle and rapid development. Under Xi Jinping, however, this institution has undergone some fundamental changes. Some argue that Xi’s reconcentration of power at the central level has revoked local government autonomy and discretionary power — and, therefore, their willingness and ability to experiment. The loss of experimental policy-making could have serious implications for regime resilience in China, which begs the question: Why would the Chinese regime actively try to prevent local policy experimentation?
My research finds that, despite heightened risk and a general unwillingness to experiment, local policy experimentation has not stopped or even decreased under Xi Jinping. Rather, as my supervisor and I showed in an article published in the world’s top China journal, visible experimentation actually increased between 2010-2019. While researching and writing the above article on local policy experimentation, I stumbled upon a phenomenon that I had not seen discussed in any of the extant literature: Local policy experiments which respond directly to instances of popular protest.
Popular understandings of protest under authoritarianism suggest that it is too politically dangerous for the regime to allow and that any protest attempt will be wholesale repressed. The international media refer to protests in China as “rare”, despite reporting on multiple, large-scale protests every few months. Can protest under authoritarianism be more than a zero-sum stand-off between a regime and its people?
The same local officials who are under more pressure than ever to experiment with innovative policy solutions are also responsible for “maintaining social stability” and responding appropriately to protest. As the literature on protest management in China shows, these local governments respond to protest with predictable patterns, without necessarily seeking to or succeeding at preventing the occurrence of protest. Rather, local governments use protests to identify system issues and address them with targeted policy changes. It therefore follows that experimentation, an integral part of the Chinese policy-making process, could be a part of this.
Using a comparative case study approach, this PhD project seeks to understand the relationship between protests and subsequent local policy experiments by constructing a medium-n database of positive and negative cases. In doing so, I synthesize the literature on local policy experimentation in China and the literature on protest in China, and thereby contribute to the growing body of studies of modern authoritarian governance.
Marcel Maria Schwarz
Assessing party politics in modern India and the extension of the voter base in the case of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
School of Law and Government
Dublin City University, Ireland
The recent electoral performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged as an important subject of academic inquiry garnering attention from scholars of Indian politics. Taking into account that the BJP is often mainly associated with North India this thesis disentangles how the BJP seeks to make inroads in South India. Put differently, the following puzzle guides my research: How does a nationally dominant party – such as the BJP – compete in a political marketplace where it is a challenger? The ensuing research tended to assume that for the BJP it appears to be a challenge to make inroads in South India whereas it is widely perceived as a dominant party at the national level of India’s electoral politics and mainly associated with the Hindi heartland in North India.
Through the case of Kerala I explore how the BJP recalibrates its electoral strategies for South India. I discuss the political dominance of the BJP at the national level of India’s electoral politics also taking into account the position of the Congress Party by reflecting on the four party systems. Furthermore, I also dissect influencing factors such as caste and class as well as patterns of ethnic voting and clientelism. The primary contribution of the study is elucidating how a party endeavors to enter a party system where its aim to establish an “all-India” dominance is undercut by cultural and social heterogeneity.
Islamic NGOs under Different Authoritarian Contexts
The state-civil society relationship has always been a highly controversial sphere, especially when it comes to the Middle East. The exceptional complexity of the region makes the dynamics of this relationship even more questionable. Egypt is a salient illustration of this complexity, where NGOs have operated under some variants of authoritarianism. For example, Islamic charities used to be one of the main providers of social services in Egypt for decades and were largely tolerated by previous regimes in order to compensate for the lack of the services provided by the regime. The fact that these Islamic organizations functioned as parallel service providers for a long time led to the emergence of a hyper-rational approach that assumed that these organizations would be permanently tolerated by the regime as long as it is economically unable to meet the public's needs.
However, post-2013 empirical research showed that this approach is no longer valid due to the crackdown on many Islamic NGOs and other drastic measures that aimed at containing their potential threat. To test the validity of this approach, a comparison between the Mubarak regime and the Sisi regime was conducted to measure the impact of economic hardships and the threat to the regime on the one hand and the autonomy of Islamic NGOs on the other. The result showed that the higher the threat to authoritarian rule, the lower the autonomy of these organizations regardless of the deteriorating economic conditions. On this basis, in this study, I provide a detailed process of revisiting the aforementioned approach and, in addition offer a new approach that can give a better explanation of the recent changes/circumstances.
The Influence of Gender Issues on Militant Islamist Organizations: A Case Study of the So-Called Islamic State
Department of Political Science
Technische Universität Dortmund
In my dissertation project, I am dealing with gender-specific recruitment methods of Islamist terrorist organizations using the so-called Islamic State (IS) as a case study.
Many researchers have noted that women’s participation in more conservative terrorist groups has increased, especially in the last 10 to 20 years. This is particularly true of Islamist terrorist organizations, which have rarely attracted attention in the past for recruiting women due to their very patriarchal ideology regarding the traditional roles of men and women. In the previous decades, women have often traveled to the areas of operation of the respective organizations (e.g. to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s), primarily as wives or family members of male Islamist fighters. However, especially with the emergence of the so-called Islamic State, which operated primarily in Syria and Iraq, women increasingly began to travel alone or in all-female groups to the Islamist organization’s areas of operation. According to various experts, this is not a phenomenon that can be attributed merely to a shift in focus on the part of scientific or political observers, but rather to a more recent development within this area of phenomena. I am therefore interested in how this changed situation came about.
Since a person’s motivation for joining a terrorist group can vary greatly from individual to individual, I analyze the object of investigation primarily with a focus on the organization. In addition to the strategic and ideological reasons for the recruitment of women, I look at what methods IS has used to lure women into their area of operation. One hypothesis of mine is that IS has used arguments from existing “Islamic” and “Islamist” “women’s rights” discourses, which are often distinct from “Western” feminisms (which are not rarely conceived as “neocolonial”), in its recruitment efforts. Underlying this assumption is the observation that terrorist organizations do not operate in isolation from global processes and discourses and must therefore link to predominant developments in one way or another in order to gain traction for new potential members. This is particularly true of Islamist terrorist organizations, which are widely perceived as very contemptuous of women.
From a gender theory perspective, it is important for my research to explore the extent to which IS constructs gender relations, the roles it assigns to the sexes, and how it draws on these gender-specific constructions when recruiting women. In addition, the work is intended to shed light on the extent to which these gender-specific developments are related to processes of globalization.
Fátima Ávila Acosta
Violence Against Women in Politics: Citizen Perceptions and Democratic Culture
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
The main topic of my dissertation is citizen perceptions on Violence Against Women in Politics (VAWIP). VAWIP refers to violence perpetrated against women who - by engaging in politics - challenge the preexisting status quo of the political arena, which was designed for and has been historically dominated by men. VAWIP is perpetrated to resist and inhibit women's political participation and is motivated by the explicit desire to prevent women's presence in politics for the sole reason of being women. For many reasons, VAWIP is problematic and incompatible with the basic principles of a democratic liberal state. However, despite the severe threat that this type of violence poses to women’s rights and democratic regimes, research on the topic remains nascent and scarce.
Existing academic efforts have focused on the effects that VAWIP has on women that participate in the political sphere. Although this is fundamental to understanding the consequences of this type of violence on democracies, research has not yet covered the effects of VAWIP outside the political arena, namely on ordinary citizens. While several studies have focused on citizen perceptions and attitudes to detect and measure the substantial impacts of other types of violence in political systems and communities, no study has been conducted to explore how ordinary citizens perceive VAWIP. Until now, the literature on the topic has been limited to the assumption that VAWIP is normalized in most societies and dangerously accepted as part of the political game. My research project will test this assumption and go beyond the explored topics by analyzing VAWIP from the perspective and perceptions of ordinary citizens.
Specifically, my research project seeks to answer the following question: To what extent are citizens' perceptions of violence against women in politics (VAWIP) consistent with their country's democratic culture? By exploring citizen attitudes regarding VAWIP, the present research proposal will contribute to analyzing if citizens have internalized the democracy-devastating belief that this type of violence is or should be the “natural cost” of doing politics for women. To answer the research question, this dissertation is structured as a comparative case study between various Mexican municipalities. Considering that citizens’ attitudes are crucial for the definition of social problems, the perpetration of social conducts, and for measuring progress or setbacks in democratic systems, the general objective of this research is to explore the relationship between democratic culture and citizen perceptions and attitudes towards VAWIP. Similarly, my research proposal aims to contribute to the literature on this type of violence by introducing citizen perspectives in the debate.
Understanding the Allocation of Responsibility after Civil War and Genocide
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
When mass conflict such as the civil war in Sierra Leone and the genocide in Bosnia occurs, various actors such as the United Nations, International Criminal Court and local organizations become involved in order to end the conflict, seek justice, and attempt to establish peace. There is a procedure which takes place in order to end the violence and seek justice for those affected by the conflict. Questions of responsibility come to the forefront when action is being taken to pursue peace and justice. Many scholars investigate the role of international organizations (IOs), states, and individuals as holding responsibility for remedying the issues present in post-conflict realities.
Responsibility in post-conflict reconstruction is often rooted in finding the actor(s) who were responsible for the atrocities and considering ways to make them take up their responsibility as one way forward to establish peace and justice. This process of attributing responsibility in post-conflict situations in order to achieve justice and restore peace is also known as transitional justice and post conflict reconstruction (Eisikovits, 2017). How responsibility is allocated in these situations will be investigated in this dissertation. Current scholarship on the topic analyses the ways in which responsibility is determined post-conflict, be it individual or collective, considering factors such as moral agency and sovereignty (Erskine, 2001). International organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and International Criminal Court (ICC) often step up and determine the ways in which justice processes should be conducted. Scholars are investigating the ethical implications of this alongside of discussions of intervention during a conflict and the duty and obligation to provide assistance to a society as they rebuild post-conflict (Subotic, 2011). Yet, what is missing so far is a discussion of the allocation of responsibilities, most notably those to rebuild society, post conflict. Given this gap in the literature, this dissertation sets out to address the following research question: What are the roles and responsibilities ascribed to the respective actors involved in post-conflict reconstruction? Doing so, this project will identify the roles and responsibilities of the various actors involved in post-conflict reconstruction as well as understand the justifications and criteria for claiming and ascribing responsibilities post-conflict.
Der Einfluss sozialstruktureller Merkmale auf das Wahlverhalten in Deutschland
Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen
„Die Ausübung des Wahl- und Stimmrechts ist Bürgerpflicht.“ So steht es im Artikel 26 Abs. 3 der Verfassung Baden-Württembergs. Dennoch gibt es in Deutschland keine Wahlpflicht, obwohl eine Einführung dieser seit vielen Jahren diskutiert wird, da die Wahlteilnahme immer weiter zurückzugehen scheint.
Die Wahlteilnahme lag bei der Bundestagswahl 2017 bei 76,2% und war damit um 4,3% höher als noch im Jahr 2013. Auf den ersten Blick scheint dies eine positive Entwicklung zu sein. Betrachtet man aber die Wahlbeteiligung der einzelnen Wahlkreise, so zeigen sich starke Unterschiede. Während der Wahlkreis München Land mit einem Wert von 83,9% die höchste Wahlbeteiligung im Bundesgebiet aufweist, lag die Beteiligung im Wahlkreis Duisburg II bei der Bundestagswahl 2017 nur bei 64,7%. Diese unterschiedliche Wahlteilnahme spricht für eine unterschiedlich starke Einflussnahme auf den Wahlausgang verschiedener Regionen in Deutschland. Das Missverhältnis politischer Einflussnahme ist besonders dann kritisch, wenn diesem sozialstrukturelle Merkmale zugrunde liegen, welche die partizipatorische Exklusion bestimmter Milieus zur Folge hat und somit dem normativen Gleichheitsgrundsatz der Demokratie widerspricht.
Untersuchungsgegenstand meines Promotionsvorhabens sind jene sozialstrukturellen Merkmale, die sich auf das Wahlverhalten in Deutschland auswirken. Zur Debatte steht die Einflussnahme vielfältiger Merkmale, wie Alter, Geschlecht, formaler Bildungsgrad und Migrationshintergrund. Wichtig ist, zwischen den beiden Schritten der Wahlentscheidung zu unterscheiden, auf welche sich die verschiedenen Merkmale je in unterschiedlicher Weise und unterschiedlichem Ausmaß auswirken. Die Wahlteilnahme stellt den ersten Schritt der Wahlentscheidung, nämlich die Entscheidung, ob überhaupt gewählt wird, dar. Im Anschluss ist die Entscheidung für eine Partei und eine Kandidatin oder einen Kandidaten relevant. Um die Effekte ungleicher politischer Beteiligung auf politische Ergebnisse erörtern zu können, müssen beide Schritte der Wahlentscheidung in den Blick genommen und ihre Abhängigkeit von sozialstrukturellen Merkmalen untersucht werden. Wer nimmt an politischen Wahlen teil? Und wen wählen diejenigen, die ihrer Bürgerpflicht der Wahlteilnahme gerecht werden?
Ich untersuche, ob ein konkreter, struktureller Ausschluss gesellschaftlicher Gruppen zu verzeichnen ist und inwiefern sich eine solche Exklusion in den Wahlergebnissen widerspiegelt. Es wird zudem hinterfragt, ob diese demokratietheoretisch kritisch zu bewerten ist. Wenn auch die tatsächliche Teilnahme an Wahlen stark divergiert, so ist doch das Recht hierzu allen Wahlberechtigen in gleichem Maße gegeben. Aber reicht die formale Gleichheit hier aus? Oder lassen sich aus den Auswirkungen verschiedener sozialstruktureller Merkmale auf die Wahlentscheidung, Effekte erkennen, welche die politische Gleichheit in Deutschland in Frage stellen?