Climate Change and Underwhelming Policy Responses

In our project on excessive policy volatility we also look at cases in which either nothing substantial gets really done in policy making or in which even ‘progressive’ change often has feet of clay. In a recent article, Michael Howlett and I illustrate this logic of disproportionality in policy making with the case of climate change policies. We see that risk averse governments still have two main ways of justifying inaction (or even negative, anti-reactions): either denying the problem or fatalistically accepting it. In this we follow the recent literature on disproportionate policy responses and also the older literature on blame avoidance and risk averse governments.

trump.png

Here is the link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1523908X.2017.1324772

Send me an email, if you would like the ungated version.

Here is also our abstract:

We apply insights from the recent literature on disproportionate policy reactions to the case of climate change policy-making. We show when and why climate change exhibits features of a sustained under-reaction: Governments may react to concerns about climate change not through substantive change but by efforts to manage blame strategically. As long as they can avoid blame for potential negative policy outcomes policy-makers can act to deny problems, or implement only small-scale or symbolic reforms. While this pattern may change as climate change problems worsen and public recognition of the issue and what can be done about it alters, opportunities to manage blame will still exist. Governments will only revert to more substantive interventions when attempts to fatalistically frame the problem as unavoidable fail in the face of increased public visibility.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

PostDoc Position in IPE, Switzerland, Steffie Walter

*******

The Institute for Political Science at the University of Zurich invites applications for a position as

 

Post-doctoral researcher („Oberassistenz“) 

 

at the Chair of International Relations and Political Economy (Prof. Dr. Stefanie Walter).

 

 

The Department of Political Science offers excellent research support in a vibrant research community and is committed to advancing young scholars’ careers.

 

The post-doctoral researcher will pursue his or her own research agenda in the fields of international relations and international political economy and produce scholarship with the potential for publication in top outlets. He or she will contribute to teaching in the fields of international relations and political economy (3 hours per week, which translates into a 1-2 teaching load), advising of students and doctoral candidates, and some administrative tasks. Collaboration in research projects running at the Chair and the Department is encouraged.

 

The successful candidate

  • demonstrates a strong interest in research and the potential to develop an internationally recognized research track record in international political economy, proven through peer-reviewed publications, third-party funding, and/or related research activities.
  • holds a PhD in political science or international relations (or is close to completion).
  • possesses strong methodological skills.
  • demonstrates the willingness and ability to engage in high-quality teaching, proven through teaching evaluations, didactical training etc.
  • is motivated to pursue an academic career.
  • is able to work both independently and in a team.
  • has a strong command of English and good working knowledge of German.

The starting date for the position is 1 September 2017. A minimum of two-year commitment is requested; renewal up to six years is possible and contingent on research productivity, teaching quality, and continued substantive fit. The salary is 80.000 CHF/year. Limited funding for conference travel etc. is available.

 

Further enquiries can be directed to Prof. Stefanie Walter (walter@ipz.uzh.ch). Information about the research and teaching activities at the Chair of International Relations and Political Economy is available at http://www.ipz.uzh.ch/lehrstuehle/ibipe.html.

 

 

Please send your application electronically as one pdf-file comprising your motivation letter, CV, publication list, brief proposal for a postdoctoral project (1 page), transcripts, teaching evaluations (if available), and the names of two references to the secretariat of the Institute for Political Science (sekretariat@ipz.uzh.ch). Deadline for applications is 31 May 2017.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Forget about the Money: Why Hungary is much more worrisome than Brexit or Greece

The recent struggle about the fate of CEU in Hungary is just the latest installment of a move towards what the Hungarian government calls ‘illiberal democracy’.  In real terms, this is a misnomer as Hungary has become a democracy only in the sense of an (not really fairly) elected government, whereas most of the other institutions have been gradually dismantled: checks and balances, independent judiciary, independent press, academic freedom are all severely damaged.

The only positive aspect of the Hungarian lex specialis against CEU is however, that it gives salience to an issue which is much more worrisome than BREXIT or the debt crisis in Southern Europe: it is the question, whether the EU can continue to exist if some of its members cease to be democracies.

Historically, the European Communities were founded as a zone of economic integration and cooperation to stabilize the partly nascent democracies in Western Europe. One might argue that ironically, the economic integration has contributed to a destabilization of these democracies. And yet, in many respects the current resentment against the EU is just a typical example of scapegoating: the debt crisis, the integration in a global economy could perhaps have been mitigated without the deep European economic integration, but they would have happened nonetheless.

Forget about the money for a second. The fog of economic turbulences has clouded our eyes when it comes to the original idea: creating a mutually stabilizing club of democracies. The legitimacy of the European Union itself is at stake, if it transforms into a mixed bag of democracies, semi-democracies, and outright autocracies in the near future. Like the United Nations such an EU would suffer tremendously from the most basic disagreements on fundamental human norms. Just think of the fact that Saudia Arabia gets to chair the UN Human Rights Council panel. However, unlike the United Nations, the EU would still consist of a much deeper level of political integration, of shared areas of competences and common institutions.

Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to think that the current crisis in Hungary and in several other European countries poses the most existential threat to the EU since its existence. Forget about the money, this is about basic freedom, democracy and rule of law. This is about the reason why the EU was called into existence.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Offener Brief an EVP Chef bezüglich FIDESZ

This is an open letter (in German) to the chairman of the European People’s Party (EPP). It is written by one of my former colleagues, Dorothee Bohle, who know works at the European University Institute. It asks the chairman to quit FIDESZ membership in the EPP in light of recent events in Hungary and the continuing abolition of democratic institutions and the rule of law in Hungary.

It is important to highlight, that the issue at stake here goes far beyond the location of a private university, but touches the foundation of the European idea. The events happening in Hungary are far from trivial and should concern all European citizens, not just Hungarians. It is also not simply a question of meddeling in the national politics of a sovereign country, as the Hungarian prime minister claims, but a question of what type of fundamental norms and institutions should govern the relationship of countries within Europe.

Pls. also consider signing this petition.

 

Hier ein Offener Brief von Professor Dorothee Bohle an den Vorsitzenden der Europäischen Volkspartei

 

Sehr geehrter Herr Weber,

Ich wende ich mich heute an Sie als Vorsitzender der EVP. Ich weiss, dass Ihre Stimme großes Gewicht hat, und ich ersuche Sie, in der EVP den Antrag auf Ausschluss der Fidesz zu stellen.

Bis vor kurzem habe ich an der Central European University in Ungarn gelehrt, deren Existenz nun aufgrund des Gesetzentwurfes der ungarischen Regierung akut gefährdet ist. Die Central European University steht für akademische Exzellenz, Integrität und Internationalität. Viele ihrer Fakultäten nehmen in internationalen Rankings europäische Spitzenpositionen ein, und dort lehrende Professoren haben sich sehr erfolgreich um europäische Forschungsgelder beworben. Die Universität wurde vor über 25 Jahren in Ungarn etabliert, sie hat eine ungarische und amerikanische Akkreditierung, und viele ihrer Programme sind ebenfalls in Ungarn akkreditiert. Der Gesetzesentwurf zielt bewußt auf ein Aus dieser Universität. Akademische Freiheit, Exzellenz und Internatioanalität sind in einem zunehmend nationalistisch und autoritärem Ungarn nicht mehr erwünscht. Es wird Sie sicherlich interessieren, dass selbst das amerikansiche State Department sich explizit gegen eine Schließung der Universität gewendet hat. Gerade in diesem Kontext ist es schwer verständlich, dass Europa sich nicht zu einem klaren Signal durchringen kann.
Ich habe in den letzten Jahren sehr genau beobachten können, wie die europäischen und demokratischen Werte durch den ungarischen Premierminister zunehmend unterminiert wurden. Die Regierung Orban hätte jedoch nie so weit gehen können wie sie konnte, wenn Ihre Fraktion den Ministerpräsidenten nicht über die ganzen Jahre unterstützt hätte. Es ist mir als Politikwissenschaftlerin durchaus bewusst, dass eine Verringerung der Fraktionsstärke durch Verlust der Fidesz Mandate für die EVP schmerzlich wäre. Aber ich hoffe sehr, dass Sie bei nüchterner Abwägung zum Schluss kommen werden, dass eine Partei, die einen solchen frontalen Angriff auf die Freiheit der akademischen Forschung und Lehre startet und dabei auch noch auf antisemitische Ressentiments in der Bevölkerung schielt, in Ihrer Fraktion keinen Platz haben kann. Der Nutzen der Fidesz Mandate kann den Schaden, den die systematischen Anschläge dieser Regierungspartei auf demokratische Werte und europäische Solidarität dem Ruf der EVP zufügen, nicht aufwiegen.

Ich würde mich über ein persönliche Antwort oder eine öffentliche Stellungnahme von Ihnen freuen.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Dorothee Bohle

Dorothee Bohle
Professor of Political Science
European University Institute
Badia Fiesolana
Via delle Roccettini 9
I-50014 San Domenico di Fiesole (FI)
ITALY

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

In Praise of Weak Leadership

In one of my last posts I complained about the uncritical approach of many (bad) management schools to leadership. The larger issue, of course, is the worrisome trend in world politics, to, once again, glorify the notion of stronger leadership.

We all know that the Roman republic only installed dictatorial rights on their leaders in times of emergency. But this is obviously what people seeking power want to convince us: that we live in a continuous state of emergency. And this where people fall for the idea.

But democracy, rule of law, accountability and republicanism are precisely built on a notion of weak leadership. The checks and balance in the system are meant to confine leadership in such a space that it cannot do too much harm. This system is so effective that it even works successfully in cases of warfare or terrorism.

At the heart of the problem lies a conceptual confusion. There is a big difference between a constrained and hence weak leader or a leader who is incompetent. In practice you can end up with all types of constellations, but the best constellation is really a weak, but competent leader, whereas the worst is a strong, but incompetent leader. Unfortunately, unhedged praise of strong leadership often gravitates towards a permissive stance to the latter.

In particular, some people seem to place high hopes into the combination of a strong, but competent leader. This is probably the legacy of a patriarchic culture in which people look up to a father figure. Indeed, in some cases this might work out (for some). But placing bets on the benevolent autocrat is a huge gamble, which, on average, fails.

Intelligent management studies know this of course. ‘No leader is perfect. The best ones don’t try to be—they concentrate on honing their strengths and find others who can make up for their limitations.’ So here is a simple rule: if someone aggressively seeks strong leadership, this should make him or her the least likely person apt for the job.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cyclical Policies and the Evolution of Long-Term State Capacity

Jahrbuch

This is a paper which links two related problems of policy making: problems of cycles (e.g. the adoption and abortion of a policy in a short run) and the more continuous problem of chronically weak state capacity. I argue that both are two different sides of the same coin. I use a highly stylized model, when and why political factions cannot agree on a common middle ground and then introduce ideologically opposed policies which will soon be reverted. I use a couple of historical episodes from Latin America, especially in terms of privatization vs. nationalization cycles, to illustrate the problem.

Here is the manuscript of the paper. Here is the link to the publisher.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why the Exit from Nuclear Energy in Germany?

4099 /Mutlangen, Protest gegen Pershing II-Atomraketen

(Protests at one of the US army bases in Germany where nuclear weapons were stored. Source)

For a while now I am intrigued with a simple question: of all (relatively) large countries, Germany is the only which seems to take exiting nuclear energy seriously. Why is this the case. This is not my field, but I have a suspicion.

When I ask learned colleagues I get three main explanations. The first is the notorious German Angst. We seek insurance even for choosing the right insurance, so perhaps we are just more worried about nuclear energy than say the French. This raises the question why we built the power plants in the first place. Maybe we needed to learn about the negative consequences of nuclear energy such as Chernobyl or Fukushima, but still, this answer leaves much to ask for.

Another answer comes from the relative strength of energy providers. The political economy story boils down to saying that in the German energy mix, traditionally, coal (both black and brown) played a much stronger role, and nuclear was in a weaker position. But this, if anything, makes matters worse for the nuclear exit, because it means that exiting nuclear energy comes with higher CO2 emissions and clashes with climate change considerations. (yes, yes, renewables, but still.)

The third one rests on the relative strength the German Green party. Indeed political mobilization is an important mechanism how issues are raised to prominence and finally reach the highest level of decision making. But again. This answer leaves much to be desired. For starters, it is not so obvious that German Greens did so much better. The table below shows averages over 15 years (1999-2014) of the Chapel Hill Expert Survey. German Greens are doing fine, but not extraordinarily fine. Moreover, if it is this party link, where does the strength come from, ultimately?

Presentation1

My feeling is that Germany needs to be seen in a unique historical and geographic context that conflated two important dimensions of nuclear energy: peaceful and military use. The unique circumstances were that Germany itself did not have any nuclear weapons, but a lot of nuclear arms were stationed on German soil. This triggered broad resistance, arguably much broader than in countries like France or the UK were the weapons were national ones. Hence, the German movement, much more than in most other countries, was always a mixture between peace and Anti-AKW (anti nuclear power plants), a constellation which is hard to find in other places. Perhaps Japan would be similar, but Japan had nothing as close to a political default line as the Berlin Wall.

If this argument is true, the legacy of US nuclear arms is really long and tipped the balance against the supporters of nuclear power plants. Events such as Fukushima were merely the trigger.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized