Kommunismus und populistische Demokratie

Vorträge von Antonela Gyöngy, Roxana Stoenescu und Martin Brusis im Rahmen der Konferenz “Totalitarian Reverberations in East-Central Europe” an der Fakultät für Europastudien, Babeș-Bolyai Universität Cluj-Napoca, 26.10.2018


Aufmerksame Teilnehmer am ersten Tag der FSE-Konferenz, 26.10.2018

Antonela Gyöngy: Representations of the Communist Resistance in the Romanian Cinema

This presentation intends to illustrate an often neglected, yet relevant aspect of the collective memory construction in Communist Romania. In addition to other forms of collective remembrance, cinematic representations of the recent past have played a significant role for both the political regime and the Romanian society by providing political legitimacy as well as entertainment. The Communist resistance activist was one of the most recurrent topoi of collective memory, which had to be presented as a figure of identification. The cinema permitted, however, a negotiation of the recent past on different levels. Starting from these considerations and focusing on the film production „Duminică la ora 6“ (Sunday at Six, Lucian Pintilie), the presentation brings into discussion the Communist resistance discourse during the liberalization period.

Roxana Stoenescu: From Dictatorship to National Communism

The present research explores the relationship between the development of the nation state and the dictatorships in Romania. This requires studying the establishment of ideological and dictatorial power practices that originate from the historical context of capitalist and imperialist developments. On this basis the national conceptions of a closed “body” evolved, which means that certain groups, due to their “otherness” compared to the national similarities, experienced social exclusion. Thus, racial ideological attitudes and the resulting homogenization and repression policies of the 20th century’s dictatorships emerged. The present paper shows how the homogenization process took place under totalitarian rule in Romania and what the construct of the nation means for this process. The inner contradictions between one’s own ideology and the real implementation are examined, using the example of Romanian national communism. The aim of this paper is to show the similarities of the dictatorships and their meaning for the consolidation of the Romanian nation state.

Martin Brusis: Can Responsiveness Substitute Accountability? Lessons from the Central and East European Laboratory of Populist Democracy

Responsiveness characterizes a democratic process that „ induces the government to form and implement policies that the citizens want” (G. B. Powell). Populist parties advocate public policies that reflect the preferences of ordinary citizens, and their electoral success indicates that people believe their claims. Governing populist parties in Hungary, Poland and other Central and East European countries have systematically eroded institutions of democratic accountability, justifying these policies as measures to strengthen popular democracy and to fulfill the promises of the post-1989 democratic transitions. Although this erosion has been criticized as democratic backsliding and illiberal drift by scholars and international institutions, significant shares of voters continue to view it as steps towards a more responsive democracy.

To analyze this ambivalence in CEE’s emerging populist democracies, the presentation proposes a concept of democratic quality that comprises both accountability and responsiveness. Both attributes are considered as necessary for a high-quality democracy, implying that none of them can replace the other one. It is argued that citizens’ “satisfaction with democracy” does not constitute an appropriate proxy measure of responsiveness because it does not take the formation of preferences and their translation into public policies into account. The presentation therefore suggests a notion of governmental responsiveness that focuses on the institutional capacities for inclusive government and “good” policy outcomes. EU interventions to restore horizontal accountability will have only limited resonance, if governmental responsiveness is neglected.