Research / Projects

Governments in Europe - Bringing in the Baltic and East Central European Democracies

This project connects ten senior scholars in the Baltic and East Central Europe countries with Södertörn University for the purpose of conducting cutting edge comparative research on the formation and stability of national governments. In particular, the project examines two aspects of government formation and termination that in the region have not yet been the subject of scholarly inquiry. One of these is coalition governance. Knowledge about this aspect of national politics in the region is today very scarce, both in the international literature and (according to our country experts) in the national languages of the countries. We are particularly interested in developing an understanding of the conflict resolution mechanisms that government parties try to use to enforce and maintain their coalitions.

Second, while there is a body literature about how long governments typically stay in power, very little
is known about the specific reasons as to why they terminate. Research about these topics requires both systematic data-collection and qualitative case studies that are context sensitive and written by scholars with a high degree of insight into the politics of each country.

Bringing in the experts from each of the countries to be studied will enable to project to (a) develop
historic-ideographic knowledge about the trajectories of the individual countries and (b) collect and
interpret national-level data on the countries that match the data available for Western Europe. It is
important to note, however, that the utility of this project is not limited to a comparison of East and West or to a comparison of results from across Europe. Perhaps even more important is that it allows us to conduct analyses of variation among the 10 countries in the region. We expect to find “sub-regional” tendencies (for example, minority governments as viable options in some countries but not others).

The project will make it possible for us to determine the degree to which such variations are rooted in
systemic path-dependencies (historic legacies and transition scenarios), and/or national institutional
choices. Because the project asks both new and long-standing questions about government formation and stability in a region where such questions have been under-studied, it will also inform the entire research tradition that is based on theories of coalition formation. The project will establish Södertörn as a central node for research on national governments

This project is part of an international research collaboration aimed at improving our understanding of what goes on inside European governments and parliaments. In the Södertörn project, we put much time and effort into establishing firm and precise information about governments, political parties and parliaments in the CEE region. In a parallel project, a research team led by Professor Wolfgang C. Müller at the University of Vienna is preparing an in-depth analysis of the many crucial aspects of coalition governance in Central Eastern Europe that remain to be researched. This includes coalition agreements and how coalition management mechanisms are designed and maintained, as well as when and how they actually work. If this collaboration is successful and sufficient funds are granted, we will also aim to include all of the EU member states in a study of representative democracy in the new Europe.

Status

Started

Project Manager

Torbjörn Bergman
Researcher, Professor
School of Social Sciences

People linked to the project

Anders Backlund
Doctoral Student
School of Social Sciences

More information

Project start: 2011
Project end: 2015

Financier: Östersjöstiftelsen

Research linked to the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe: Yes

Information på svenska

Subjects to which the project is linked

School/centre to which the project is linked