21. 6. 2019
Academic Conference Centre, Husova 4a, Prague 1

This international workshop seeks to contribute to the ongoing debate about the de-consolidation of democracy. It will explore the contemporary disappointment with the ways how democracy is functioning, manifested in the falling confidence in democratic institutions.

Worldwide, traditional political parties are losing their electoral base and are unable to reflect the growing contradictions and inequality in society adequately. Polarization of society and marginalization of some groups lead to the support of new populist-oriented political actors around the world. We bring together a set of experts from around the world (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Germany, Hong Kong, Brazil) to explore these issues, from the perspectives of governance (Hauke Hartmann, Petra Guasti), populism in non-Western context (Alessandro Pinzani, Susanne Yuk Ping Choi), and transitional justice (Roman David, Dobrinka Kostova). We will focus on similarities and differences between three key regions: Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. During the workshop, two recently monographs will be presented - Communists and Their Victims: The Quest for Justice in the Czech Republic (2018, by Roman David) and Democracy under Stress: Changing Perspectives on Democracy, Governance and Their Measurement (edited by Petra Guasti and Zdenka Mansfeldova).

The event is financially supported by the Strategy AV21 of the Czech Academy of Sciences, research programme No. 15 - Global Conflicts and Local Interactions: Cultural and Social Challenges, and registration is free.

The workshop is organized by PhDr. Zdenka Mansfeldová, CSc. ( and  PhDr. Petra Guasti, Ph.D. ( Workshop is held in English, registration is free, please send email to: and


8:30 Registration

8.45-9.00 Welcome (Zdenka Mansfeldova)

9.00-10.00 Opening Address:

  • Dr. Petra Guasti, Goethe University Frankfurt and Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences
    Non-linear Democratization: Central Europe between Past and the Future

    Across the Central and Eastern Europe, there is a steep decline in the stability of democratic institutions, as well as in political participation and the rule of law (BTI 2018). These changes highlight an important gap in the democratization literature, which have predominantly focused on linear (positive) change (Munck 2001). Scholars of democracy and democratization focused on explaining why some countries succeeded and other failed by returning to authoritarianism (O'Donnell, Schmitter & Arnson 2013, Linz and Stephan 1996, 1999, Kitschelt et al. 1999). While there are no coups or widespread electoral fraud (Bermeo 2016), and none of the CEE democracies are at the immediate threat of undergoing a regime change, the quality of CEE democracy is deteriorating. Thus, there is a space between liberal democracy and authoritarianism. Among the Visegrad four countries, despite the similarities in economic performance, the intensity of the decline in democratic quality varies (BTI 2018). By focusing on legacies, as a possible explanatory factor of the variation in democratic quality in the Visegrad four countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia), this paper revisits the Kitschelt et al. approach (1999). I focus on legacies to explain the variation in the dynamics of democratic quality over time (cf. Kopstein 2003, Pop-Eleches and Tucker 2011). I broaden the scope of legacies to include three regime types occurring in the Visegrad four countries in the past 100 years (1918-2018).
    Discussant: Doc. PhDr. Michel Perottino PhD., FSV UK

 10.00-10.30 presentation of the Bertelsmann Transformation Index and its main findings

  • Dr.  Hauke Hartmann, Bertelsmann Foundation, Germany
    The Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI) analyzes and evaluates whether and how developing countries and countries in transition are steering social change toward democracy and a market economy. Guided by a standardized codebook, country experts assess the extent to which a total of 17 criteria have been met for each of the 129 countries. These experts ground the scores they provide in assessments that comprise the country reports, all of which are available online. A second country expert then reviews these assessments and scores. In a final step, consistency is assured by subjecting each of the 49 individual scores given per country to regional and interregional calibration processes. Standardizing the analytical process in this way makes targeted comparisons of reform policies possible.
    The BTI aggregates the results of this comprehensive study of transformation processes and political management into two indices: the Status Index and the Governance Index. The Status Index, with its two analytic dimensions of political and economic transformation, identifies where each of the 129 countries stand on their path toward democracy under the rule of law and a social market economy. The Governance Index assesses the quality of political leadership with which transformation processes are steered.


Coffee break

I. Block - Justice and its enemies
Chair: Dr. Zdenka Mansfeldova

  • Prof. Roman David, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
    Communists and Their Victims: The Quest for Justice in the Czech Republic (preliminary title, TBC)

    In Communists and Their Victims, Roman David identifies and examines four classes of justice measures—retributive, reparatory, revelatory, and reconciliatory—to discover which, if any, rectified the legacy of human rights abuses committed during the communist era in the Czech Republic. Conducting interviews, focus groups, and nationwide surveys between 1999 and 2015, David looks at the impact of financial compensation and truth-sharing on victims' healing and examines the role of retribution in the behavior and attitudes of communists and their families. Emphasizing the narratives of former political prisoners, secret collaborators, and former Communist Party members, David tests the potential of justice measures to contribute to a shared sense of justice and their ability to overcome the class structure and ideological divides of a formerly communist regime. Complementing his original research with analysis of legal judgments, governmental reports, and historical records, David finds that some justice measures were effective in overcoming material and ideological divides while others obstructed victims' healing and inhibited the transformation of communists. Identifying "justice without reconciliation" as the primary factor hampering the process of overcoming the past in the Czech Republic, Communists and Their Victims promotes a transformative theory of justice that demonstrates that justice measures, require a degree of reconciliation, to succeed.
    Discussant: Doc. PhDr. Olga Gyarfášová, PhD., Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University Bratislava

​Lunch break

II. Block - Right-wing populism in non-Western Context
Chair: Dr. Petra Guasti, Goethe University Frankfurt and Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences

  • Prof. Alessandro Pinzani, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brasil, and Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences.
    Bolsonaro ‘the Myth’: The unholy alliance of religion and social media in the Brazilian election of 2018.

    The paper will try to analyze the result of the last elections by discussing the role of media and social networks and the role of Christian fundamentalism.
    Discussant: Dr.  Hauke Hartmann – Bertelsmann Stiftung, Germany
  • Professor Susanne Yuk Ping CHOI, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
    Gender Irrelevance: How Men and Women Rationalize their Support for Right

    Right-wing groups have generally been considered gender-conservative or, in some instances, sexist.  Given this background, it is a puzzle why young people, particularly women with relatively liberal gender attitudes, support these groups. This paper tries to answer this question by comparing men’s and women’s justification for participation in nativist and antimigration political groups. It develops the concept of gender irrelevance, defined as the processes and strategies through which members of these groups render male dominance and gender segregation within their organizations trivial; sexist behaviours of some group members tolerable; and concerns about gender equalities unimportant, secondary, and ultimately irrelevant in their decisions to support these groups. The paper further illustrates the strategies of gender irrelevance, which include the misrepresentation, naturalization, individualization, and universalisation of gender inequality and biases; the construction and deployment of the twin discourses of female privilege and male disadvantage; the tendency to compartmentalize gender biases; the argument of compromising gender; and criticism against an allegedly exaggerated, inconsistent, and double-standard feminism. The research concerns Hong Kong’s young and educated supporters of nativist and antimigration political groups. They are political minorities in relation to the omnipresent Chinese state but majorities at home in relation to mainland Chinese immigrants whom they construct as the “other.” We believe that the concept of gender irrelevance is applicable to other contexts, and not merely to these young people in Hong Kong. It has the potential to help us understand the global rise of the Right.
    Discussant: Dr. Zuzana Uhde, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences

Coffee break

III. Block - Democracy and its alternatives in Central Europe and beyond (TBC)
Chair: Dr. Petra Guasti, Goethe University Frankfurt and Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences

  • Doc. PhDr. Olga Gyarfášová, PhD., Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University Bratislava
    Troubled Path of CEE to Consolidated Democracy.

    Discussant: Dr. Petra Guasti, Goethe University Frankfurt and Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Doc. Dobrinka Kostova, PhD., Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia
    Democracy as a Target: The Case of Bulgarian Political Development

    Bulgaria’s development in the last 30 years is characterized with institutional ineffectiveness, mistrust to the parties that they can bring prosperity to the country, electoral mobility and low civil control over governance. All these contribute to unstable democratization of the country. The low level of institutional trust complicates the process of democratization and leads to ups and downs in the strength of acceptance of the basic rules of democratic political system. As a consequence the process of building the democratic structures and their good functioning is a slow, however, a continuous process. A basic explanation for that is the approach to the transition. In Bulgaria continuity is considered inappropriate and the choice is toward a total change. Next, as the trust to elites is low, the governing leaders have no courage to implement non-popular reforms. An additional shortcoming is the lack of experience on the side of the elites and that leads to the creation of networks between state institutes or some of their incumbents and representatives of the black economy and as a consequence there is a lack of equality in front of the law, a lack of fairness and of good governance. Not keeping to the rules of the law on the side of some of the representatives of the state institutions, leads to similar behavior on the side of some of the citizens. These negative effects do not result in negative attitudes towards democracy, but require more democracy and establishment of firm democratic principles. Till now the citizens are critical and requiring but their support for democracy is stable.
    This paper is devoted to the analysis of Bulgarian elites, relations of trust in society and the challenges of European integration. Elites are of significance as the modernisation and economic development of the country and effectiveness of state structures depend on their capacity, trust is essential for social cohesion and solidarity, and European Union accounts as an external factor for the success of integration in regional and international structures and organisations. 
    Discussant: PhDr. Zdenka Manfeldova, CSc., Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences
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