20-4-2018 at 0:00 Round table on the State of Democracy in Slovenia On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Center for Political Research, we organized a round table discussion on the State of democracy in Slovenia, which took place on December 5, 2017 at the Faculty of Social Sciences.
30-3-2018 at 0:00 Prof. dr. Danica Fink-Hafner guest in the radio show Glasovi sveta Afghanistan between anarchy, theocracy and democracy
How did poverty, illiteracy, the weakness of state institutions, interference of foreign countries, and lawlessness caused the emergence of the Taliban movement?
24-3-2018 at 0:00 New publication in Interest Groups and Advocacy journal William Maloney, Mitja Hafner-Fink and Danica Fink-Hafner have published new article The impact of the EU accession process and EU funding on the professionalization of national interest groups: The Slovenian case in Interest Groups and Advocacy journal. You can access the article here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41309-018-0032-6
Political science research programme (P5-0136) (1.1.2015 - 31.12.2020) Prof. Danica Fink Hafner>more
This research programme is a continuation of the Political Science Research Programme - the only research programme in Slovenia that systematically collects and analyses the various kinds of data on the dynamics of the primary national institutions and actor s– including elections while taking into account both the internal and external variables. Previously, the research 'red lines' have been: (1) the factors determining the consolidation of democracy; and (2) the top-down impacts of globalisation / Europeanisation processes on national institutions, actors and processes. In the new programme period, our main
RESEARCH GOAL is: (1) to analyse the anatomy of the political crisis in Slovenia and the EU from a comparative perspective while also taking into account the economic crisis; (2) to take part in the current normative debate on political alternatives and their possible outcomes (especially in Europe) for solving the problem of declining legitimacy; and (3) to analyse the responsiveness of the political elite to the political crisis in the EU context.
The MAIN RESEARCH QUESTIONS are:
What are the key sources and mechanisms of the current deep political crisis in Slovenia and the EU? What are the key normative, structural and functional challenges to solving the crisis? What are the possible alternative scenarios of Slovenian and EU political system developments and what are their possible consequences for democracy? Which actors, resources and actions could provide alternatives supporting social wellbeing, peace and democracy; and which actors, resources and actions could support the counter-scenarios?
In answering these research questions we will focus on several longitudinal RESEARCH PILLARS
The main RESEARCH STRATEGIES are: (1) studying Slovenia from an international comparative perspective; (2) linking the Slovenia-focused research to the current debates on alternative intellectual and political responses to the global political crisis - particularly in the EU; (3) linking political science and interdisciplinary research; as well as (4) communicating with the stakeholders during the entire research process.
RESEARCH METHODS: The research will be based on qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method research designs (explanatory sequential, embedded, convergent parallel), which include our own data-gathering as well as the secondary analysis of other available databases.
KEY RESULTS EXPECTED: (1) to further intensify international collaboration leading to active participation in the European debate on alternative paradigms and to increase international publications; (2) the development of unique political databases covering elections since 1990 and their transfer to the Social Science Data Archive; and (3) to communicate with stakeholders throughout the research process in order to enhance the quality and applicability of the research results.
Democracy, legitimacy, crisis, Slovenia, EU, globalisation, Europeanisation, institutions, public administration, public sector, elections, political parties, interest groups, civil society, protests, political knowledge, comparative research, political data, political science
Political science research programme (P5-0136) (1.1.2009 - 31.12.2014) Prof. Danica Fink Hafner (past project) >more
THREE PERSPECTIVES are built into the theoretical framework of the programme: policy, polity and politics in the context of the last wave of globalisation. The main focus is on CURRENT THEORETICAL DEBATES AND PRACTICES OF EXPERIMENTALIST DEMOCRACY. (Lord 2001; Boerzel et al 2005; Sabel and Zeitlin 2007; Hix 2008; publications by researchers involved in current European projects and networks of excellence – such as CONNEX, RECON, CINEFOGO, NewGow).
So far, the impacts of globalisation (especially Europeanisation) processes on policy-making, the transformation of policy and political actors as well as on the changing modes and forms of governance have mainly been studied by employing a »TOP-DOWN« APPROACH APPROACH (e.g. Ladrech 1994; Bulmer and Burch 1998; Knill 2001, Goetz 2001; Fink-Hafner 2007). The focus on the national political system and policy adaptation reflecting integration with the EU has been especially characteristic for the 2004 new EU member states, and was already closely monitored by the European Commission according to political and other criteria during the EU accession stage. Research into horizontal processes and »bottom-up« transformations has been developed to a much smaller extent. In the proposed research programme, the INTENTION IS NOT ONLY TO INCLUDE THE »MISSING LINKS« IN RESEARCH, BUT ALSO TO COMBINE SEVERAL RESEARCH APPROACHES: »TOP-DOWN«, »BOTTOM-UP« AND PARTLY HORIZONTAL-TRANSNATIONAL LEVEL (PRIMARILY EU LEVEL) RESEARCH.
While many authors stress that the distinction between national and European/transnational is becoming blurred (e.g. Brunkhorst 2003; Witte, Reinicke and Benner 2000; Hyttel Nřrgĺrd 2003;Jacobsson, Lćgreid and Pedersen 2004; Sabel and Zeitlin 2007; Citi and Rhodes 2007), we believe that a more thorough insight into the relevant institutions, actors and processes could in fact reveal some distinct political innovations which are leading to new modes of governance that allow the co-existence and interference of old and new patterns of governing/governance. They correspond with the emergence of experimentalist democracy in the making, involving interference in both old and new modes of representation (see e.g. Mansbridge 2003; Sabel and Zeitlin 2007; Follesdal in Hix 2005; Mair 2005; Baker 2006; Fossum and Crum 2007).
It could be said that globalisation (especially Europeanisation as part of it) is penetrating both external and internal state boundaries. Still, we expect to reveal a »PATCHWORK« of a variety of density, the depth of globalisation/Europeanisation in various segments of political entities (state institutions at various levels of state organisation, political parties, civil society/ interest groups, social movements, citizens’ political participation, various policy sectors). The research will focus on the INTERRELATIONSHIP BETWEEN: A) THE CHANGING ANATOMY OF NATIONAL institutions, actors and policy processes affected by globalisation processes (especially Europeanisation); and b) the CHANGING SUPRANATIONAL institutions, actors and policy processes due to inputs coming from the national level. In this context, the INTERGOVERNMENTALISM VS SUPRANATIONALISM competing theories on democracy will be challenged by the empirically revealed EXPERIMENTALIST DEMOCRACY (especially within the EU’s political system).
Based on our previous research and current theoretical debates on the characteristics, notions and forms of DEMOCRACY, the combined theoretical and empirical research will focus on the following aspects/thesis:
- trends toward majoritarian democracy (electoral engineering; government formation/coalition-building);
- the prevalence of the executive over legislatures in EU policy-making;
- the growing transnationalisation of national bureaucracy (public administration) – transnational state segments;
- the autonomy of middle-ranked officials relative to political appointees in the process of EU policy-making and implementation; the case of »soft law« (the open method of co-ordination);
- the open method of co-ordination (OMC) of policy dissemination, policy learning or a really new instrument (OMC) power relations among states in specific policy fields with EU »soft law«; and
- characteristics and the interplay of micro, meso and macro-level democracy (political parties, interest groups, social movements, citizens)
The research is theoretical and empirical.
It will be based on both qualitative and quantitative methodology. Comparative (international and longitudinal) research is a special concern. Since we focus on institutions, processes and agents, the following research approaches will be applied: (neo)institutionalism, (neo)neofunctionalism (Schmitter 2002), behaviourism and policy analysis research methods and techniques. The planned research methods and techniques include: interviews, public opinion surveys, a meta-analysis of international public opinion databases (especially the ISSP-Citizenship module, European social science survey data) and content analyses. It is anticipated that electronic archives of documents and databases for international comparative and longitudinal research will encompass some of the research outputs. Additional methods involve continuous forms of communication with stakeholders and interested publics in governmental and non-governmental milieus during the research process as well in the stage of disseminating the research results.
International scientific project
N5-0023 The organizational development of national interests groups in a European comparative perspective (1.10.2014―30.9.2018) Prof. Danica Fink Hafner>more
Interest organizations nowadays operate in a complex and fragmented political context, as many policy-making competences are dispersed between political authorities at different levels of government. This project is designed to explain how the dynamics of multilevel governance affect the establishment, maintenance and development of organized interests. The division of political authority might create additional room for maneuvering and facilitate greater diversity within interest communities. Yet, it could also constrain political representation and strengthen existing tendencies towards professionalization and specialization. To assess how organized interests operate in a mutating environment, we apply insights from exchange and resource dependence theory, expanding and advancing the existing literature on Europeanization and professionalization of organized interests by applying an organization-centered perspective. The project employs a comparative research design, combining a comprehensive mapping of interest communities in eight countries with an in-depth survey assessing various structural and strategic features of organized interests. In this way, our project aims to generate comparative data on the dynamics of interest representation and seeks to clarify how organizational imperatives and national factors shape the establishment, development and consolidation of interest populations across Europe.
N5-0014 INTEREURO - Comparative research on interest group politics in Europe (2011-2014) Prof. Danica Fink Hafner (past project) >more
The main purpose of this project is to promote a more comprehensive theoretical and empirical understanding of the role interest groups play in the European polity. Specifically, we will examine interest group mobilization; organizational maintenance and professionalization; strategies for influencing political decision-making; framing processes; and their impact on policy outcomes. The project will link the different aspects of the role of interest groups in the European policy process in an integrated theoretical framework. Our guiding intellectual tenet is the generation and strategic use of information by organized interests. To confront our theoretical contribution with empirical data, we will develop a comprehensive database that contains information on the individual stages of the influence production process at the national and EU levels. Employing an issue-centred sampling approach we will combine bottom-up with top-down sampling of interest groups and integrate quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Comparitive research on interest group politics in Europe (INTEREURO) partners:
University of Leiden, Netherlands; http://www.leiden.edu
University of Antwerp, Belgium; http://www.ua.ac.be
Newcastle University, United Kingdom; http://www.ncl.ac.uk
University of Salzburg, Austria; http://www.uni-salzburg.at
Ruhr-University, Bochum, Germany; http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de
University of Barcelona, Spain; http://www.ub.edu
Gothenburg University, Sweden; http://www.gu.se
University of Virginia, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, USA; http://www.batten.virginia.edu
EU Preparatory Action in the field of sport 2011: Action for Good Governance in International Sports Organisations Assoc. Prof. Simona Kustec Lipicer (Slovenian partner) (past project) >more
The objective of the project is to analyse the governance structures and standards in a number of international sport organisations and develop a set of guidelines that sport organisations can use as benchmark and implement in respect of their own traditions, experiences and autonomy. With this regard the project team is identifying the specifics of the sports organisations administrative systems, standards for democratic decision-making, gathering already existing best practices comparable to, but outside the realm of sport, analyse the multi-national and multi-level potentials.
Basic Research Project
Open method of coordination: An analysis of its policy and political consequences (J5-2030) (1.5.2009 - 30.4.2012) Prof. Danica Fink Hafner (past project) >more
The project is theoretically extensively and complexly designed. It is based on a well-considered selection of various political science theories and concepts, which especially includes theories of Europeanisation, multi-level policy-making, approaches of new institutionalism, concepts of policy networks and related theories of governance and policy styles.
Research results (especially results of internationally comparative studies) are valuable in the process of the (re)formation of institutions in Slovenia as Slovenian society and its political (sub)system is adjusting to the social, politico-cultural and institutional environment of the European Union. In the context of the Europeanisation of Slovenian politics, the more important are questions concerning strengthening the competent work of the Slovenian public administration as well as civil society in the new circumstances of policy-making, where the enforcement of Slovenian interests or interests of Slovenian actors is relatively difficult and complex. It is expected that Slovenian political institutions will show greater interest in co-operating with political scientists in the future – especially in relation to the specific questions of institution-building and building of communication channels for more efficient multi-level political decision-making and the implementation of common European policies and their prevailing modes of governance (such as with the open method of co-ordination) in Slovenia. Thus, the research will contribute to: a) national knowledge of international opportunities and weaknesses of the functioning of Slovenia’s political system and political science in the relation to the open method of co-ordination; b) knowledge about the open method of co-ordination and the position of Slovenia in the EU policy arena (especially through foreign publications, presenting research results in the framework of international collaboration with other scientists and institutions, participation at conferences and workshops). In the framework of European integration, the dissemination of the research results is particularly important for revealing both similarities and dissimilarities between Slovenia and new and old EU members. The research will also contribute to: c) the development of Slovenian political science terminology, the consolidation of democratic practices in the education field; d) consolidation of democratic policy praxis; and e) Slovenian political science earning greater recognition within the international political science community (especially by publishing research results abroad and participating in international research projects, networks, regional and global political science associations).
(Pre)election campaign capital and democratic development of the state and society (J5―2289) (1.5.2009 - 30.4.2012) Assoc. Prof. Simona Kustec Lipicer (past project) >more
The primary aim of the research is to reveal the worth of policy positions of the national
parliamentary (pre)election programmes and their future impacts for the state's and societal
development after the elections. We presume that the value capital of party programmes
corresponds to the pursuit and active advancement of the perceptions for retrieving social problems,
and that this is reflected in:
a) the scope of the stated policy positions;
b) contextual integrity of the interpretations of the problems and possible solutions of the party
c) appropriate international comparatibility of policy positions;
d) the continuity of policy positions through the time;
e) levels of 'translations' of identified policy positions into the contents of coalition agreements.
In doing so multiple mixed research methodology is used.
Politics in the area of former Yugoslavia (J5-6154) (1.2.2004 - 30.1.2007) Prof. Danica Fink Hafner (past project) >more
The project focuses on politics in the area of former Yugoslavia from the end of the 1980s to the early 21st century. The key research goals are:
1) discovering the patterns of transition to democracy and their success involving contextual circumstances, constitutional choice, electoral choice, institutional engineering, characteristics of party arenas and the scope of sovereignty (presence of foreign/international forces) in six territorial political units - the former Yugoslav republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia); and
2) an analysis of relations between liberal and ethnic principles in party arenas and the related consequences for the democratisation and consolidation of party arenas in these territorial political units. Three hypotheses will be tested:
a) the assumption that the six former Yugoslav republics form several different clusters according to their characteristics (as mentioned in research goal 1);
b) that a critical proportion of ethnically-based parties in the party arena creating a nationalistically polarised party arena can be identified - similar to the critical proportion of anti-system parties (in party arenas based on the liberal principle) has been defined as the proportion that still allows the political system"s normal democratic functioning; and
c) that through institutional engineering (especially electoral engineering) one or other principle of political party foundation and competition (liberal, ethnic) can be both encouraged and discouraged. The novel aspect of the research project lies in its inclusion of all the said units in the research while simultaneously combining various research approaches (comparative institutional approach, comparative qualitative research, transitology, specialised political science research into electoral systems, their consequences and the characteristics of party arenas, and partly research into conflict management in divided societies). The empirical research will be based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods.
Processes and problems related to democratic consolidation (J5-0356) (1.7.1998 - 30.6.2001) Prof. Danica Fink Hafner (past project) >more
The research project covers a case study of democratic transition in Slovenia, as well as a comparative analysis of democratic transitions of other post-socialist countries. The synthesis of theoretical and empirical research results will presumably (a) contribute to the development of the theory on democratic transitions and (b) uncover the problems and obstacles in the process of democratic consolidation in the post-socialist part of the world, focusing on Slovenia of the 90s.
Developing Active Citizens of Europe through School - dACES (553272-EPP-1-2014-1-SI-EPPJMO-PROJECTS) Assoc. Prof. Tomaž Deželan>more
DACES aims to test, validate and promote a blended learning toolkit for teaching and learning (EU) citizenship that we constructed under the ACES JM EU@School project. This toolkit that tackles growing alienation, lack of knowledge and distrust of (young) EU citizens from European institutions and EU at large (see EC, 2010; Hoskins et al., 2012) is aimed at fostering reflective learning process (Wales and Clarke, 2005) resting on a circular mode (Radovan, 2014) constructivist pedagogical paradigm (Williams, 2010) and on a freely accessible open educational platform (Moodle). The tool focuses on learning about the rights of EU citizenship, the role of the EU and EU instititions and citizenship in general and aims to foster knowledge on EU citizenship in content dimension (subject matter), affective-behavioral dimension (student perceptions and activities) and cognitive dimension (thinking processes) (see Shulz et al., 2008).The project therefore addresses the need for a more structured and holistic citizenship education within secondary education institutions as well as youth organizations. Civic education in Slovenian secondary schools is normally organised in frame of so-called obligatory content of choice (OIV content). Though OIV is part of curriculum, it is usually carried out in less formal way. The OIV content is usually organised at the end of school year or just before Christmas holidays and are perceived as a ‘lighter’ learning content, when attention of students to education process is poorer. Content that is taught in OIV frame thus has to apply attractive, innovative and interesting didactic approaches in order to make the citizenship education more appealing for students. Due to a small number of hours directly intended for citizenship education, teachers usually introduce civic education as a cross-curricular subject (Karba, 2013). In congruence, youth organizations, though being active in the field, struggle with the absence of a structured approach to citizenship education (Skrinar, 2014). Both educational environments suffer from the lack of European dimension, primarily in terms of citizenship as students and youth overall is not aware of their rights granted from the citizenship of the Union.
The aim of this project is therefore to fully test, validate, revise and finalize and promote an EU citizenship toolkit that will consist of variety of teaching strategies to promote content dimension (subject matter), affective-behavioral dimension (student perceptions and activities) and cognitive dimension (thinking processes) of citizenship education of high school students and youth within youth organizations. It shall provide the youth the opportunity to participate as well as the knowledge and skills needed to act as a citizen of the Union (see Wales and Clarke 2005).