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WCED Lecture/Conversations on Europe. "Setting the Boundaries of Participation in Post-authoritarian Democracies: Lessons from Post-war Europe."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University

Giovanni Capoccia <br> Professor of comparative politics, University of Oxford. <br> Sponsors: WCED, Center for European Studies-European Unioin Center

Giovanni Capoccia’s research concentrates on comparative politics, comparative methodology, and the theory of political institutions, with a focus on democracy and extremism, democratization, electoral and party systems, and European politics. He is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College and a faculty associate of the Oxford Center for the Study of Inequality and Democracy. His Defending Democracy: Responses to Extremism in Interwar Europe, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005) won the APSA Award for the Best Book in European Politics in 2006. He is the co-editor of a special double issue of, Comparative Political Studies, entitled The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies, which develops a new framework for the study of democratization in Europe and beyond. He is currently writing a monograph provisionally titled Reshaping Democracy after Authoritarianism. A paper from the project received the 2011 APSA Sage Award for the Best Paper in Comparative Politics.
Abstract: In some post-authoritarian democracies, "successor" parties that perpetuate the ideology and the personnel of the past regime are excluded from electoral competition and legally prosecuted, while in others they are tolerated and, in some cases, even included in political coalitions. Most scholarship explains such "illiberal" or "liberal"—policy regimes with variations in the politics of memory i.e., how the authoritarian past is characterized in the prevalent public discourse. Focusing on the experience of Western Europe, and in particular on the case of Italy after 1945, this lecture draws on historical primary sources and newly collected quantitative data to show that the selection of a restrictive or lenient policy towards neo-Fascism is driven by the short-term electoral interests of mainstream political actors rather than by their view of the authoritarian past; and that patterns of public discourse on the memory of the authoritarian regime are largely endogenous to these early policy choices. These insights lay the foundations for a new understanding of the emergence of "liberal" or "illiberal" post-authoritarian democracies.