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Democratic Backsliding and Public Administration

31 January 2019 – 1 February 2019 all-day Europe/Rome Timezone
Cappella, Villa Schifanoia
Villa Schifanoia
Mia Saugman




Liberal democracy appears to be at risk. Its hallmark institutions—political pluralism, separation of powers and rule of law—are coming under pressure, as authoritarian sentiment is growing around the globe. While this democratic backsliding features prominently in social science scholarship, the Public Administration community lags behind. Only a few contributions have so far addressed the administrative dimension of democratic backsliding. This shortfall impairs our understanding of this recent dynamic transforming the political landscape. For without considering their approach toward the executive, efforts of actual and aspiring authoritarians remain only partly understood.

The workshop therefore addresses the administrative dimension of democratic backsliding. What happens to state bureaucracies when authoritarian politicians enter office? How do they seek to use the administration to their ends, and how does it react? Literature on politicisation, reform and administrative culture may provide clues; however, a systematic analytical framework for state bu-reaucracies in times of democratic backsliding is yet to emerge. What can we learn from current and historical examples, and what does normative public administration theory have to say about the relationship of liberal democracy and bureaucracy in turbulent times?

We invite scholars working on the relationship of democratic backsliding and public administra-tion from theoretical, empirical or normative perspectives to submit an abstract. Special empha-sis is also paid to country-specific case studies. We also encourage practitioners from interna-tional organisations or national administrations to share their experiences with democratic back-sliding with regard to public administration.

Please send your proposals (500 words maximum) to the scientific committee no later than 19th of October 2018 (via michael.bauer@eui.eu and becker@uni-speyer.de). Financial support for travel and accommodation will be available; priority will be given to applicants without assistance from their home institution.

Event website on eui.eu.