24th Annual Conference of the Hungarian Political Science Association

8-9 June 2018, Budapest

Institute for Political Science, Center for Social Sciences (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

Tóth Kálmán Str, 4, 1097 Budapest


Important dates

5 March Abstract submission opens                                                                                          
25 March Abstract submission closes
17 March Notification of acceptance
29 May Final programme announced



Call for papers

The Test of Democracy? Elections – Participation – Representation

The central theme of the 24th Annual Conference of the Hungarian Political Science Association revolves around the 2018 Hungarian parliamentary elections and its lessons for political science. Besides examining the institutional and regulatory context of the elections, the conference pays great attention to the issues of political participation and representation and to those symptoms of crisis that are related to the lack of participation. The sections of the conference aspire to highlight various aspects of elections, participation and representation and aim to draw normative and/or descriptive observations as well as discuss theoretical or empirical scholarly reflections on these issues.
In the past decades studies on political participation and, more specifically, on participation in elections has been a decisive topic in the international academic literature. It was exactly 70 years ago when Paul Lazarsfeld and his colleagues published their seminal book on “The People’s Choice: How the Voter Makes Up His Mind in a Presidential Campaign”, which since then has remained one of the foundational works of electoral behaviour theory. In Hungary, the first research projects in this field were conducted in the early years of regime change (1988, 1989) thus the domestic political science community joined the international debates relatively early on. It goes without saying that political participation, either in its traditional sense of electoral participation or in its alternative, direct form of participation, is not only relevant from the perspective of political behaviour but it bears important consequences for political theory, political history and public policy as well. Participation may be considered as the test democracy in terms of its functioning, democratic mandate and legitimacy. Consequently, the lack of participation may highlight the problems and vulnerability of these democratic mechanisms.
Political scientists apply various measures to particular aspects of the functioning of democracy. It remains to be seen though what the 2018 elections may add to our academic knowledge regarding the Hungarian political community or its specific parts. What are the most important differences in electoral participation compared to earlier patterns? How to interpret representation in the contemporary world dominated by digitalized and hybrid media? What theories and methods help us better explore the new relationships between institutions and political behaviour? What are the consequences of the decline in public interest in politics, the hollowing of democracy and the participation gap of certain social groups for the functioning of European political systems? How can longitudinal data, historical experience and observation help us understand current political processes? Are there international trends to which specific aspects of the 2018 elections may belong? And perhaps the most important question: what does political science reveal to us about the functioning of democracy in the context of the 2018 elections?
At the 24th Annual Conference of the Hungarian Political Science Association we intend to reflect on current developments in domestic and international politics while we also reckon that the empirical richness of this topic allows for a comprehensive introduction of the political science research projects conducted by the domestic scholarly community.

Language of the conference: Hungarian and English

Keynote speech:
Fernando Casal Bértoa 
(University of Nottingham): European Party Systems in Crisis: Can We Fix It?

A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of…government instability, electoral volatility and party system change! In the last five years we have seen the collapse of the Greek and French party systems, as well as the decline of traditional political parties in Spain, Germany or Austria, among others. Radical right-wing parties have managed to get access to office in both East (e.g. Bulgaria, Poland) and West (Belgium, Finland, Norway). And populist parties lead governments in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Greece. Government formation takes longer than before (e.g. Spain, the Netherlands and Italy) and early elections (e.g. Spain, UK, Iceland) are not something exceptional anymore. Important changes in the structure of competition have been observed in countries like Denmark, Sweden or Luxembourg. In other words, Lipset and Rokkan’s famous “freezing hypothesis” seems a relic of the past.
Using an original dataset covering all European democracies since the formation of the French Second Republic in 1848, Dr. Casal Bértoa will assess to what extent party systems have really changed over-time, what explains party system (de-)institutionalization and the rise of support for anti-political-establishment parties, as well as examine how economic political crisis have altered the way political parties interact. Finally, he will also challenge the traditional wisdom, which sees party system stability as a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the survival and/or quality of democracy. 


Academic programme

Friday, 8 June 2018

10.30 – 11.20 Opening and welcome address. Award ceremony of the 2017 Kolnai Award, talk delivered by the award winner
11:30 – 12:30 Lunch
12:30 – 14:00 Panel Session 1.
14:00 – 14:10 Coffee break
14:10 – 15:40 Panel Session 2.
15:40 – 15:50 Coffee break
15:50 – 17:10 Panel Session 3.
17:15 – 17:55 Roundtable: What are public opinion polls good for?
18:00 – 19:00 Keynote lecture
19:00 – Gala dinner


Saturday, 9 June 2018

9:00 – 10:30 Panel Session 4.
10:30 – 10:40 Coffee break
10:40 – 12:20 Panel Session 5.