Research findings from PLATO at ECPR

A number of PhD researchers and supervisors will attend the ECPR General Conference in Wroclaw, which takes place from 4-7 September 2o19, including a full panel devoted to PLATO research findings.

Poster ECPR conference

About the conference

The ECPR’s General Conference remains Europe's largest annual gathering of political scientists, often attracting more than 2,000 scholars from throughout the world and at all stages of their career. With nearly 500 panels taking place across 70 sections, this year's academic programme covers the breadth of political science, creating the platform for lively discussion, exchange of ideas and the best thinking in the discipline.

PLATO papers at ECPR

One full panel dedicated to PLATO research is chaired by coordinator Chris Lord, where five papers by PLATO PhD researchers will be discussedPoliticisation, representation and legitimation crisis(?) in the European Union (Panel 285, Saturday, 7 September, 11:00-12:40).

In addition, three papers are to be discussed at other panels during the conference (in order of appearance):

Keeping a foot in the door: Explaining changes in interest group persistence after crisis and reform

Bas Redert, PLATO PhD researcher (ESR12), University of Antwerp

Panel 193: Lobbying the bureaucracy, expert communities or the judiciary

Friday, 6 September, 11:00-12:40

Abstract (final version)

The involvement of interest groups in European Union (EU) financial regulation is an increasingly studied area within interest group research. One of the reasons scholarly work focuses on this specific policy area is the allegations of capture, and the devastating results that might have had in the wake of the financial crisis of 2007/08. Academic work has focused on the question whether mobilization of interest groups has changed after the crisis, and what the results might be for the degree of capture of EU policymakers. Most of these studies, however, tend to focus on density and diversity, and as such ignore an important facet of mobilization: persistency. Persistency refers to the ability of individual groups to mobilize consistently in a certain policy field. Recent empirical evidence analyzing public consultations for three EU regulatory agencies, finds that although density and diversity remain unchanged after the financial crisis or institutional reforms, persistency is, in fact, affected these exogenous shocks. In our current understanding, it remains unknown what might explain interest group persistency and what the effects of crisis and reforms are on persistency. Therefore, this research answers the question: What explains the changing persistence of interest groups after the crisis and institutional reforms?

The European Court's brokered legitimacy: Conceptualising the sociological legitimacy of the Court of Justice of the European Union during the OMT saga

Julien Bois, PLATO PhD researcher (ESR4), Berlin Graduate School for Transnational Studies

Panel 076: Courts and their legitimacy

Friday, 6 September, 15:50-17:30


The Euro Area crisis raised numerous questions about the legitimacy of the EU as a justified power-holder. If the legitimacy of the European Commission, European Parliament and the European Central Bank were widely commented and criticized in EU studies during the Great Recession, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) remained absent in these debates, even if the Court was the heart of tensions surrounding the adoption of the European Stability Mechanism and the use of "non-standard measures" by the ECB. This paper aims at developing a conceptual framework to understand the legitimacy of the CJEU and will use the Euro Area Crisis as a crucial case study. Scholars usually distinguish between the normative side of legitimacy (what standards ought to be respected by the power holder) and its sociological side (how the “audience” believes an authority to be legitimate): if the former is well developed and has been a raison d’être in EU legal scholarship for decades, the latter received scarce attention in the literature. If the relationship between the CJEU and national courts (with a focus on the preliminary reference procedure) is still, albeit with diverging results, the focus of inquiries on the Court, it tells us little about what the ‘audience’ of the Court is nor does it identify the key stakeholders judges need to get support from. A way to assess sociologically the legitimation processes of the CJEU is to look at how judges justify themselves their decisions and from whom they seek to get approval of their actions. Based on judges’ own writings and the newly published list of external activities of the members of the Court, this paper argues that EU judges interact mainly with a specific audience – corresponding to Vauchez’ “European legal field” (ELF) – via various means to explain their actions and secure an approval they may or not receive with only the publication of judgements. ELF players, acting as legitimacy brokers, also play a role in shaping the Court’s case law via various channels (academic articles, government briefs, conference presentations) and mediate the CJEU’s actions to the broader citizenry (students, domestic legal professionals and public at large). This interactive process allows the Court to gauge the response of the field and to side with the majority or to contain potential controversy within the ELF, fine-tuning eventually its case-law if the majority of stakeholders still disagree with the Court’s doing. The Euro Area crisis constituted a challenge to the Court’s legitimacy, especially regarding the existence of the Outright Monetary Transaction programme (OMT). The period between the referral of the Bundesverfassungsgericht and the final acceptance of the German judges to declare OMT compatible with the Basic Law will be used to display the various interactions between judges and their partners to approve a common solution, despite the unprecedented challenge to the Court’s legitimacy raised by the first ever preliminary reference issued by the German constitutional court.

The impact of political factors on developing political trust in multilevel political systems

Dominika Proszowska, PLATO PhD researcher (ESR10), University of Twente (co-authors Giedo Jansen and Bas Denters)

Panel 441: Transparency, accountability, and trust in local governments

Saturday, 7 September, 09:00-10:40


Although the debate on roots and causes of political trust is ongoing, many scholars agree about the relevance of such political factors as institutional performance, political responsiveness and political/ideological distance between the citizens and governmental incumbents. Still, no study to this day investigated and compared the relevance of those factors across three levels of a multilevel governance system (EU, national and local government). In this paper, we hypothesise (1) that political trust is specific (i.e. depends on characteristics of the political incumbents at a given level of governance) and 2) that the effects of such characteristics becomes stronger the closer the given level of governance is from a citizens’ perspective. We test our hypotheses on data collected through the Dutch Local Election Studies 2018, which were later on complemented with additional questions following the European Parliament elections in May 2019.

Contributions by PLATO supervisors

A number of PLATO supervisors will also attend the ECPR conference (see the conference website for further details):

Wednesday, 4 September, 15:00-16:40

  • Bas Denters, University of Twente: 'Who participates and is successful in local community initiatives', Panel 048: Citizen participation and democratic innovations in local policy making I (paper)

Thursday, 5 September, 09:00-10:40

  • Bas Denters, University of Twente: Panel 049: Citizen participation and democratic innovations in local policy making II (chair)
  • Asimina Michailidou, ARENA, University of Oslo: Panel 164: Identity politics in times of populism: The conflict over the Macedonia name change deal (discussant)

Thursday, 5 September, 11:00-12:40

  • Chris Lord, ARENA, University of Oslo: 'Collective will formation and inter-democracy externalities', Panel 060: Collective will-formation across borders (paper)

Friday, 6 September, 09:00-10:40

  • Hans-Jörg Trenz (presenter) and Asimina Michailidou, ARENA, University of Oslo: 'Differentiated integration, EU-dominance and the control function of journalism', Panel 284: Politicisation, power and differentiated integration (paper)

  • John Erik Fossum, ARENA University of Oslo: 'Questions of dominance and differentiation in contemporary Europe', Panel 284: Politicisation, power and differentiated integration (paper)

Friday, 6 September, 11:00-12:40

  • Cathrine Holst, ARENA University of Oslo (co-author Silje Aambø Langvatn): 'Descriptive representation in international courts', Panel 018: Applications of global public reason (paper)

Friday, 6 September, 15:50-17:30

Saturday, 7 September, 09:00-10:40

  • Panel 161: Identifying pathologies and assessing their implications for representative democracy in contemporary Europe (chair: John Erik Fossum) with the following papers:
    • John Erik Fossum, ARENA, University of Oslo: 'Right-wing populism’s impact on liberal democracy: Some reflections based on Norway’s experience'

    • John Erik Fossum (co-author Agustín J. Menéndez), ARENA, University of Oslo: 'The rise of the pseudocrat'

    • Cathrine Holst, ARENA, University of Oslo: 'Epistemic worries about economic expertise'

    • Asimina Michailidou, ARENA, University of Oslo: "'Your so-called “experts” are funded by Brussels’: Social media discourse and public understandings of expertise and democracy”


    University of Wrocław
    When: 4-7 September 2019
    Organiser: European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR)
    More info:

    ECPR 2019 General Conference

    The conference on Twitter #ECPRconf19

    Published Sep. 2, 2019 3:07 PM - Last modified Sep. 14, 2020 8:03 PM