The conference brought together three International Political Science Association (IPSA) research committees (13, 14 and 28) to examine the challenges of designing democratic institutions in divided societies. The papers presented at the conference dealt with a broad range of interesting topics related to the research agenda of the ‘Europe and the Everyday’ CRN, as well as further afield. Such topics included Brexit, democratisation, diversity management and the lived experiences of power-sharing regimes.
In his capacity as an active member of the IPSA Research Committee 28 ‘Comparative Federalism and Multilevel Governance’, Dr Soeren Keil, co-convenor of the CRN, chaired the panel on ‘Institutional Design in Divided Societies: Kosovo in Comparative Perspective’. Drawing from his research on institutional design in post-conflict societies with a special focus on federalism and state-building in the Western Balkans, Dr Keil moderated the discussion during the panel and provided valuable insights for the panellists by placing the content of the panel related to decentralisation, democratisation and ethnic cleavages in a broader comparative perspective.
Dr Keil also organised the panel ‘Policy Issues in Divided Societies’which included papers from the CRN’s communication officer and CCCU Ph.D Candidate Paul Anderson and CCCU Ph.D candidate Simon Bransden, and a co-authored paper between Drs Soeren Keil and Jelena Džankić (European University Institute, Florence). This panel focused on a number of policy issues, including Citizenship Policy and constitutional politics.
Building on his extensive research on the Western Balkans, Dr Keil presented a paper titled ‘The Ties that (Never) Bind – Citizenship in the Socialist Yugoslavia and its Federal Successor States’. This paper explores the continuity and change in citizenship policies in federal states created as a result of state disintegration. The authors argue that disintegrative processes cause new federal states to model their legislation after that of the old state while at the same time state-creation and re-articulation of identities demand a modification of the rules for inclusion and exclusion, so that they can reflect new political realities and relationships among communities constituting the state.
CCCU’s Simon Bransden presented the outline of the first paper he intends to write drawing from his recently defended Ph.D. Thesis, in a paper entitled ‘Process, Dynamics and Instrumentalities in the UK/EU Brexit Crisis after May 2015’. The paper examines the way that the EU tried to accommodate the UK’s demands in key areas of free movement of people, state sovereignty, and economic independence, whilst respecting fundamental principles of European integration. He concluded that while the package offered to UK elites was acceptable, the UK’s electorate rejected the offer.
Paul Anderson, presented on an important and timely issue in a paper entitled, ”Too little, too late?’: Brexit and the Constitutional Future of Scotland and the United Kingdom’. Here Paul examines the potential constitutional and territorial implications of leaving the European Union, and asks whether Scottish Labour’s recent conversion to federalism offers an alternative constitutional vision for Scotland. Paul’s analysis drew from a number of interviews carried out in February and March 2017 with MPs and MSPs from all five major parties in Scotland, and demonstrated that while for most federalism was considered as theoretically attractive, most pro-independence supporters believed it ‘too little, too late’, while most pro-Unionists saw it as a worthwhile yet challenging endeavour. Paul concludes that Scottish independence is not an inevitable consequence of Brexit, but the decision to leave the EU has resulted in yet more (irreparable) cracks in the UK’s once strong and stable constitutional edifice.
The papers presented by the CRN participants were very well received and demonstrates the importance of the ongoing research agendas of the ‘Europe and the Everyday’ CRN. This research will be further presented at the UACES conference in Krakow Poland in September. In addition, our annual conference, which this year focuses on the topic of ‘Democratic Recession and Europe in flux’, will take place at Canterbury Christ Church University on the 20 and 21 of September. All welcome.
Funding for the participation at the conference was kindly provided by CCCU’s Politics and International Studies Research Excellence Fund.