New publication and special issue on movement party communication

In a new editorial headlining a special issue of Information, Communication & Society, Dan Mercea and Lorenzo Mosca set forth an agenda for studying movement party communication against the backdrop of topical questions about their purchase on democratic quality. The two members of the ProDem team reflect on how the generation of movement parties emerging in the wake of the 2007-8 financial crisis set out on a path to political innovation. These parties have “expressed greater sensitivity to neglected issues, a drive to renew links with marginalized social groups through more direct – chiefly online – communication with them as well as an ambition to overhaul both the party organization and the political system”. As such “movement parties have signalled a desire to disrupt and reimagine politics”. The latter bears renewed “critical examination against questions regarding the quality of democracy [and an apparent] mismatch between a populist rhetoric emphasizing the need for more immediate and greater participation in the party organization as well as policymaking and movement party practices”. The article is part of a series of theoretical papers that are scaffolding the ProDem project.

Thirty Years of Capitalist Transformations in Central and Eastern Europe

“Thirty Years of Capitalist Transformations in Central and Eastern Europe: Inequalities and Social Resistance”, organized by Babeș-Bolyai University and the Institute for Social Solidarity, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 20 – 22 May 2021.

A recent panel co-organized by Diana Mărgărit, with the participation of Dana S. Trif and ProDem expert Henry Rammelt, analyzed the unexpected rise of Romanian social movements. The panel – Social Movements and Counter-Movements in Times of Crisis – organized within the framework of the conference Thirty Years of Capitalist Transformations in Central and Eastern Europe: Inequalities and Social Resistance, Cluj-Napoca, 20-22 May 2021, discussed the most recent, and by some accounts the only post-1989 wave of social protests leading to the emergence of Romanian social movements and movement parties. Beginning in 2013 and reaching their highest moment of intensity in January/February 2017, these mass demonstrations energized a whole new generation of political activists, effectively stopping Romania’s slip towards illiberalism.

Panel Discussion

In a recent online discussion organized on May 19, 2021 by the Vienna-based Institut für den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa, ProDem team member Dana S. Trif joined former Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, journalist Carmen Bendovski, historian Kurt Scharr and Berlin-based Romanian expert Janka Vogel in a discussion about the political situation in Romania, six months after the elections of December 6, 2020. What are the long-term effects of the 2017 pro-democracy, anti-corruption protests? Is their impact still felt in Romanian politics? Dana S. Trif joined the other panelists in an assessment of Romania’s current political developments. One major development post-2017 is that USR PLUS, the movement party drawing its roots from the social movement associated with these protests, has become an important coalition member. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll, with the December 2020 elections generating at least one major political surprise. AUR, a far-right populist party, succeeded in convincing 9% of the voters with its nationalist and anti-quarantine message. The COVID-19 pandemic is adding therefore a new layer of volatility to Romanian politics, with the outcome of the 2024 elections still difficult to predict. The whole discussion can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFK_rOXiL-M&t=1622s

New publication unpicks the use of Facebook in the 2017 Romanian #rezist protests

In a new journal article, Dan Mercea considers the use of public social media in transnational expatriate activism. He examines connections among users of Facebook event pages associated with 122 cities worldwide where demonstrations took place in 2017, in support of the anti-corruption Romanian #rezist protests. An exploration of interconnections between socio-demographics, space and network characteristics, the study probes the association of geographic location and the gender of page users to connectivity in comment and share networks to reveal a connectivity differential. Connections increased when users were active on the same pages whereas users’ common location related to comparatively lower levels of commenting but not sharing activity. At the same time, while a larger proportion of them were male, users displayed a systematic tendency to interact with the other gender. In light of these findings, the author argues for attention to be paid to socio-spatial variations in the use of social media that both localize and help bridge transnational activism.