Eroding democratic discourses and values
Panel formed with individual proposals.
In her Nobel lecture Olga Tokarczuk reminded us that “he who has and weaves the story is in charge.“ The politics in contemporary Poland is largely founded on the narrative of distrust. That narrative brought to power the country‘s present scaremongering rulers. Those currently in power sow distrust in liberal democracy and its values – they violate the constitution, stir up distrust of elites, and make attempts at bringing the judiciary to heel, while staging judges bashing propaganda campaigns. Distrust of European law and European institutions is part and parcel of this process. The narrative of distrust weakens and threatens to disenfranchise civil society, and it blurs the line between law and lawlessness. In actual fact, it also weakens those in power. The present pervasive pessimism about the future reinforces the distrust in the ruling class – not only in Poland. However, a balance between distrust of rulers and trust in them is part of democracy‘s constitutional identity.
In the past years, as authoritarians rose to power around the globe, many scholars started explaining this situation through a legal point of view. Nevertheless, these studies‘ focus on States has a blind side: that the ongoing “third wave of autocratization“ is the first one to occur in a globalized economy, where transnational business are active agents. With the purpose of filling this scientific gap, this study aims to show how transnational corporations can actively participate in the process of democratic backsliding. It does that by explaining two business actions: the capture and rupture of the political discourse. The former refers to corporations that are increasingly carrying social banners and its negative effect towards social and economic rights. The latter explains how corporate action can directly affect civil and political rights on democratic countries. Rather than presenting final conclusions, the paper opens the discussion on this issue and foster further analyzes.
The paper reflects upon the exclusivist concept of traditional values and the discourse on gender and LGBT maintained by authoritarian governments and political parties in power, notably in two Central and Eastern European states: Poland and Hungary. Their action undermines already established constitutional rights and wages war on the plurality of world views and competing conceptions of ‘common good‘. Such dismantling of ideological pluralism constitutes one of the manifestations of a broader tendency of democratic backsliding. The article argues that the right-wing populist backlash is based itself on dangerous authoritarian “ideologies“ that may constitute a great cause for concern not only locally. The ambition of European populist regimes to mobilize and consolidate power at the European Union level threatens to become contagious and to block, if not to erode the progress already achieved by inclusive constitutional culture in Europe.
This paper locates how democratic backsliding paths combine political beliefs and technical knowledge that engender governance paradigms that subvert democratic values. We identify structural similarities between the backsliding pathways between India and a set of other jurisdictions like Hungary and Poland. Thereafter, we draw on comparative historical institutionalism to show how a set of path-dependent and policy-driven endogenous processes we term as drift, layering, and displacement characterize some of these paths away from democratic consolidation. The project advances the literature by demonstrating how a combination of policy and legal change, along with ideas and political beliefs leads to distinct pathways toward democratic de-consolidation.