Revisiting Linkages between Citizens and Politicians in Contemporary Europe

27. - 29. 1. 2021
online (Zoom)
What is the nature of citizen-politician linkages in the 21st century? This question is highly relevant today due to the crisis of representative democracy, decreasing trust in political elites, and democratic institutions. At the same time, established parties are faced with the threat of populism. Ideologically footloose voters and the weakening of traditional cleavage structures undermine programmatic appeals typical for the post-War era in Europe. In an era of rapid economic changes and globalization that cut across national boundaries, the linkage mechanism between the represented and their representatives are transforming.


Keynote speaker: Professor Herbert Kitschelt, George V. Allen Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Duke University, North Carolina, USA

Herbert Kitschelt challenged previous research that posited the programmatic linkage to be the only mechanism capable of safeguarding accountability and responsiveness. Reflecting on the challenges of the globalized economy, dealignment, and the welfare state crisis, Kitschelt has shown how, in the absence of a functioning welfare state, clientelistic linkage can functionally substitute programmatic ties, especially in new democracies. The third - charismatic linkage - outlined by Kitchelt is brought to the fore by the recent rise of populism. Populists build personalized linkages with voters using direct forms of online communication to foster a closer relationship with the people that bypasses traditional political parties. Populists create an illusion of responsiveness while simultaneously eroding accountability.

The workshop focuses on the nature of citizen-politician linkages. The core and the principal reference point is the book Post-communist party systems: Competition, Representation, and Inter-party Cooperation by Herbert Kitschelt, Herbert, Zdenka Mansfeldova, Radoslaw Markowski, and Gabor Toka. The book, published in 1999, examined the dynamic of citizen politician linkages in Eastern Europe. The workshop will reflect upon and revisit the events of two decades that have passed since the publication of this book through the lenses of citizen politician linkages. It will bring together the book's authors and other scholars of Central European politics to reflect on the book's legacy, impact, and relevance for today's research.

Download programme and abstracts (provisional).