Gauging the Global Trends Towards Authoritarian Restoration – a Research Agenda

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:18
Oral Presentation
Wiebke KEIM, SAGE (Sociétés, Acteurs, Gouvernement en Europe), University of Strasbourg, France
From the ideologues and practitioners of Hindutva to the FN, a variety of authoritarian voices demands the restoration of community against formalized society and local traditions against the stranger. In Europe, “populism” dominates theoretical analyses. The term “authoritarian restoration” encourages a more fundamental theoretical reflection. My aim is to provide a comparative analysis of the conditions for the current strength of a variety of movements, parties and regimes, their similarities and differences.

Theories of fascism offer an overarching theoretical framework as a basis for research, providing internationally comparative typologies and explanations. From this conceptual starting point, I make adaptations in order to analyse the following cases: from populist to extreme rights in France, Germany, Italy and Hungary; their transnational networks and Russia’s role in them; the radical right in the US; Turkey under Erdoğan; jihadism, the case of Daech; and India under Modi. The idea of a “family resemblance” between them is taken from Mann (2004).

Mann’s approach explains how fascism offered solutions to major economic, political, ideological and military crises. Furthermore, he empirically shows which constituencies were attracted by those solutions because of their particular social location. In order to distinguish between the ideological appeal of authoritarian restoration in general, the emergence and strengthening of movements and parties, and the successful establishment of authoritarian regimes as a last step in a few of the cases under study, I introduce a stage-by-stage distinction based on Paxton (1998). This leads me to the following research questions:

Do we face similar broad crises today?

Can we understand attempts at authoritarian restoration as responses to those crises?

How do they develop over time and on which constituencies are they drawing?

Under which conditions are they successful in gaining and transforming state power?