Accountability and Participation

The Accountability and Participation Research Programme undertakes comparative analyses of ongoing political processes that may foster or undermine the quality of democratic institutions and spread authoritarian politics and practices in the Global South and across the globe.


  • How is political rule organised? How do politicians exercise power? Who governs with which legitimation and which practices? Since the beginning of the century global democracy has been in decline. Processes of democratic erosion or reversal have affected new and established democracies across continents. Even citizens in some autocracies have been confronting hardening conditions. These piecemeal regime transitions may provoke substantial decline in political competition, participation or accountability. The Accountability and Participation Research Programme investigates political processes, institutional change, and socio-political developments taking place in the Global South.

    Our research focuses on state–society and intra-state political dynamics in different political regimes. We pay attention to how civil society organises itself, and how it protests and mobilises its members and supporters to assert its demands and get politicians to deliver under conditions of high levels of economic and social inequality, and often of political repression. Likewise, we analyse the leadership’s responsiveness towards citizens’ demands and the empowerment of executives above other actors and institutions. We are interested in the prevalence of informal practices, such as clientelism and corruption, which may imperil the rule of law and, in democracies, the link between citizens and political elites, thereby providing opportunities for populist mobilisation. In addition, the study of authoritarian political practices at national or local levels alerts us on the emergence and spread of authoritarian enclaves in different political regimes. Our researchers develop context-sensitive research in the field of comparative politics and related disciplines such as sociology, legal studies, and political economy. They actively engage in scholarly exchange with researchers in the regions and provide civil society organisations and decision-makers with research-grounded expertise on the Global South’s most relevant socio-political dynamics.

    The Research Programme’s work is conducted in two Research Teams. The Democratic Institutions Research Team studies the functioning of political institutions and policy-making processes under strong executive leadership as well as mechanisms of vertical accountability and social participation in democratic and semi-democratic regimes. The Authoritarian Politics Research Team focuses on authoritarian regime characteristics, strategies, internal dynamics, and transformation processes. It also examines the role of authoritarian political practices in autocracies and democracies at the sub-national, the regional and global levels.

    Dr. Thomas Richter

    Lead Research Fellow / Head of Research Programme "Accountability and Participation"

    T. +49 (0)40 - 428 25-528thomas.richter@giga-hamburg.de

    Deutsche Welle | Interview | 20/01/2023

    ¿Quién está detrás de las protestas en Perú?

    Las violentas protestas que exigen la dimisión de la Presidenta Dina Boluarte han causado ya más de 50 muertos en Perú. Algunos acusan incluso al ex presidente boliviano Evo Morales de instigar las protestas, mientras que otros apuntan a un profundo descontento, especialmente en el sur del país. 

    Johanna Pieper

    Doctoral Researcher

    SZ | Quote | 13/01/2023

    Bolsonaro zündelt wieder

    Nach den Ausschreitungen im Regierungsviertel der brasilianischen Hauptstadt verbreitet der Rechtspopulist weiter den Mythos vom Wahlbetrug - und das Land treibt eine Frage um: Könnte der Ex-Präsident am Ende im Gefängnis landen?

    Prof. Dr. Mariana Llanos

    Lead Research Fellow

    Internationale Politik | 01/2023

    Irans steiniger Weg in die Freiheit

    Der Artikel nimmt zunächst die tieferen Ursachen der Proteste in den Blick, um zu untersuchen, was die Proteste für die Menschen und das Regime bedeuten und welche Folgen sie innenpolitisch, regional und international haben könnten.

    Dr. Sara Bazoobandi

    Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    GIGA Focus Global | 1/2023

    Threat and Integration: Attitudes towards Refugees in Germany

    In 2023, German and European authorities expect refugee numbers to rise further. Whether existing attitudes towards refugees in Germany can be changed by positive or negative statements made about their further admission in future is discussed in this Focus Global.

    Chapter in Edited Volume | 11/2022

    Official Visions of Democracy in Xi Jinping’s China

    The objective of this chapter is to analyse the self-perceptions and worldviews of China as a major global power and an increasingly important actor in Eurasia.

    Prof. Dr. Heike Holbig

    Senior Research Fellow / Editor GIGA Focus Asia

    Tagesschau | Interview | 09/01/2023

    "De facto ein Angriff auf die Demokratie", Désirée Reder, GIGA-Institut Hamburg, zum Sturm auf das Parlament und andere Institutionen in Brasilien

    On Sunday, January 8, protesters stormed the Congress, the Presidential Palace and the Supreme Court in the capital, Brasilia. This represents an attack on the three powers of the Brazilian state - legislative, executive and judiciary - and shows little respect but also little trust in the country's democratic institutions.

    Désirée Reder

    Doctoral Researcher

    tagesschau.de | Interview | 09/01/2023

    Gewalt in Brasília: "Spaltung auch in Staatsinstitutionen"

     

    Désirée Reder

    Doctoral Researcher

    Middle East Critique | 10/2022

    Collective Identity Change under Exogenous Shocks: The Gülen Movement and Its Diasporization

    This paper takes a comparative historical perspective to the post-2016 diasporization of the Gülen Movement (GM) and discusses how the GM responded differently to sudden exogenous shocks in 1997, 2007, and 2016.

    Dr. Hakkı Taş

    Research Fellow

    Blog Article | 01/2023

    Under Attack: Addressing Cross-Border Violence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

    Focusing primarily on Iran’s role, this analysis concludes that even in a best-case scenario of total democratic political change in the KRI, the the realities of the international system put the power to prevent malign intervention by neighboring states largely out of local hands.

    Dastan Jasim

    Doctoral Researcher

    GIGA Focus Global | 1/2023

    Threat and Integration: Attitudes towards Refugees in Germany

    In 2023, German and European authorities expect refugee numbers to rise further. Whether existing attitudes towards refugees in Germany can be changed by positive or negative statements made about their further admission in future is discussed in this Focus Global.

    Blog Article | 01/2023

    Why the Military Promised to Withdraw from Power in Sudan

    Dissolving former ruling parties and purging institutions breaks with old regimes. But, Hager Ali, building strong political parties to govern after ousting long-time rulers takes far more time than new incumbents have, especially when they face severe crises.

    Hager Ali

    Doctoral Researcher

    GIGA Focus Africa | 1/2023

    Ten Things to Watch in Africa in 2023

    Russia’s war against Ukraine has accelerated international competition for influence in Africa. Structural weaknesses and post-pandemic instabilities continue to threaten democratic governance, peace, and development. We present a selective list and analysis of “ten things to watch” in Africa in 2023.

    Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau

    Director of the GIGA Institute for African Affairs / Editor GIGA Focus Africa

    Dr. Julia Grauvogel

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Edited Volume | Routledge | 2023

    Contested, Violated but Persistent: Presidential Term Limits in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa

    This book generates new empirical and theoretical insights by bringing together the scholarship on Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, providing context-bound intraregional research as well as long-term perspectives for the study of term-limit change. The chapters were originally published as a special issue of Democratization.

    Prof. Dr. Mariana Llanos

    Lead Research Fellow

    Research Project | 15/01/2022 - 14/12/2024

    COVID-19 and Executive Personalization in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the MENA Region

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, political leaders reacted by containment measures that, next to combating the spread of the pandemic, also presented a window of opportunity to bolster executives’ personal grasp on power. Personalization of power has been particularly worrying in the Global South where constraints on the chief executives were often already weak prior to the pandemic. This project assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the personalization of executive power in 36 countries of the Global South.
    DFG, 2021-2024

    Research Project | 01/05/2021 - 30/04/2026

    Democratic Institutions in the Global South (DEMINGS)

    This project contributes new knowledge on the functioning of democratic institutions in the Global South, their (in)efficacy to constrain powerful executives, and the effects of particular institutions on both democratic quality and regime stability. The focus is on countries with presidential constitutions, i.e., those with directly elected presidents, an institutional choice that extended worldwide in the last decades.
    Leibniz Competition, 2021-2026

    Prof. Dr. Mariana Llanos

    Lead Research Fellow

    Eduardo Tamaki

    Doctoral Researcher

    Research Project | 01/05/2021 - 31/12/2025

    German-Latin American Centre of Infection & Epidemiology Research and Training (GLACIER)

    The COVID-19 pandemic is showing that infectious diseases can only be solved by global efforts; and that medical and social approaches must go hand in hand in order to provide solutions. Based on this understanding, the GIGA has become part of the new multi-disciplinary DAAD-funded „German-Latin American Centre of Infection & Epidemiology Research and Training“ – GLACIER and will work on a comparative study of vaccination policies in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. DAAD, 2021-2025

    Prof. Dr. Bert Hoffmann

    Lead Research Fellow / Head GIGA Berlin Office

    Valeria Morales

    Doctoral Researcher

    Research Project | 01/03/2021 - 31/08/2022

    (Un-)healthy Civil-Military Relations? Militarization of State Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Latin America and Asia-Pacific

    A number of governments in Latin America and Asia-Pacific have given their militaries wide-ranging responsibilities to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. While the militarization of politics and public life partly precedes the pandemic, COVID-19 acts as a major stress test. States have mobilized the military to support civilian health systems and administrative agencies, and to uphold public order. This project examines the role the military plays in the COVID-19 pandemic response in 36 countries in Asia-Pacific and Latin America.
    Volkswagen Foundation, 2021-2022

    Prof. Dr. Aurel Croissant

    Prof. Dr. David Pion Berlin

    Dr. Lars Pelke

    Research Project | 01/03/2021 - 31/08/2023

    The Belt and Road Initiative and Southeast Asian Countries: The Debt Curse Perspective; WP “Political Implications of the BRI in Malaysia”

    This is a collaborative research project of 11 researchers led by a research team at the University of Kyoto (Japan). It analyses the political and economic consequences of Chinese investments within the framework of the BRI and focuses on countries in Southeast Asia.
    Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 2021-2023

    Ass. Prof. Dr. Akihisa Mori

    Kyoto University

    Dr. Andreas Ufen

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Research Project | 01/01/2021 - 30/04/2022

    Digital Surveillance and Understanding Its Chilling Effect on Journalists: Finding Strategies and Solutions to Safely Seek and Share Information Online

    As democracies are getting increasingly digitalized, digital surveillance can impact the freedom of the press and of speech and expression. Surveillance may also shape the creation and flow of information and the formation of public opinion. This project examines how surveillance affects a major information agent: journalists.
    Mozilla Foundation, 2021-2022

    Research Project | 01/10/2020 - 31/10/2021

    Policy Tracker on Gender-Based Violence

    The policy tracker aims to provide context, insight and analysis into governmental response to issues of gender based violence during the coronavirus pandemic. We will collect data globally, and engage in more detailed case studies of a smaller set of countries. Our goal is to create a publicly available knowledge exchange platform for policy-makers, scholars and advocates.
    BMZ, GIGA, 2020-2021

    Prof. Dr. Merike Blofield

    Director of the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies

    Asma Khalifa

    Doctoral Researcher

    Research Project | 01/04/2020 - 31/03/2023

    Merian Center for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM): Imagining Futures - Dealing with Disparity

    The "Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb" (MECAM), founded in 2020, is a platform for regional and international scientific exchange in Tunisia based on the central theme "Imagining Futures - Dealing with Disparity". The centre is located at the renowned Université de Tunis in the Tunisian capital. Its research work focuses on the effects of multidimensional disparity on models, visions and ideas about political, social, economic, and cultural futures.
    BMBF, 2020-2023

    Team

    Martin Acheampong

    Research Fellow

    Hager Ali

    Doctoral Researcher

    Hana Attia

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. André Bank

    Senior Research Fellow

    Prof. Dr. Merike Blofield

    Director of the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies

    Dr. Julia Grauvogel

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Prof. Dr. Bert Hoffmann

    Lead Research Fellow / Head GIGA Berlin Office

    Prof. Dr. Heike Holbig

    Senior Research Fellow / Editor GIGA Focus Asia

    Dastan Jasim

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Maria Josua

    Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Prof. Dr. Patrick Köllner

    Director of the GIGA Institute for Asian Studies / Vice President

    Indi-Carolina Kryg

    Doctoral Researcher / Representative of Doctoral Researchers

    Dr. David Kuehn

    Senior Research Fellow / Coordinator GIGA Forum

    Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach

    Lead Research Fellow / Editor GIGA Focus Latin America Editor GIGA Focus Global

    Dr. Malte Lierl

    Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Prof. Dr. Mariana Llanos

    Lead Research Fellow

    Jayane Maia

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Alyssa Miller

    Research Fellow

    Valeria Morales

    Doctoral Researcher

    Daniela Osorio Michel

    Research Fellow

    Johanna Pieper

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Thomas Richter

    Lead Research Fellow / Head of Research Programme "Accountability and Participation"

    Alina Ripplinger

    Doctoral Researcher

    Ana Soares

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Esther Song

    Research Fellow

    Eduardo Tamaki

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Cordula Tibi Weber

    Research Fellow

    Dr. Andreas Ufen

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Siri Völker

    Doctoral Researcher / Research Data Management

    Askan Weidemann

    Doctoral Researcher


    Associated


    Research Teams

    The Research Programme’s work is conducted in two Research Teams. The Democratic Institutions Research Team studies the functioning of political institutions and policy-making processes under strong executive leadership as well as mechanisms of vertical accountability and social participation in democratic and semi-democratic regimes. The Authoritarian Politics Research Team focuses on authoritarian regime characteristics, strategies, internal dynamics, and transformation processes. It also examines the role of authoritarian political practices in autocracies and democracies at the sub-national, the regional and global levels.


    Research Team 1: Democratic Institutions

    The Democratic Institutions Research Team looks into the functioning of formal and informal political institutions, the ways in which citizens seek and/or fail to hold power-holders accountable, the policy-making process, and processes of democratic erosion in the democratic and semi-democratic regimes of the Global South. The team’s current research concentrates on three areas.

    Executive politics in unconsolidated democracies is usually characterised by powerful presidents that seek to control formal institutions and decision processes. We examine the behavioural and institutional dimensions of executive leadership by analysing which interests drive their political decisions. We focus also on the institutional and political dynamics of powerful executives, such as the personalisation of power, populist discourses, and institutional engineering.

    Powerful executives frequently face relatively weak control institutions, such as courts and legislatures which may imperil democracy. We study how institutions of horizontal accountability are challenged but also the strategies that these institutions apply to bolster their legitimacy and independence.

    Citizens can hold their governments accountable through elections, civic engagement and protest. The research team analyses the quality of elections as well as the influence of clientelism and ethnic politics on electoral processes. Moreover, we look at the ways in which civil society organises itself around topics of democracy, identity, and sustainability, and we identify the factors influencing the success of mobilisation.

    Our work is primarily empirical and is based on extensive original data collection. We use a range of empirical methods, including qualitative approaches, such as process tracing and comparative case studies, as well as statistical analysis and field experiments.

    Spokesperson Team 1

    Dr. Andreas Ufen

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson



    Research Team 2: Authoritarian Politics

    This Research Team studies authoritarian political practices in states all over the world. We analyse authoritarian regime characteristics, strategies, internal dynamics, and interaction with citizens, societal groups, and the political opposition. We study transformation processes such as the emergence, persistence, and demise of authoritarian regimes. Since authoritarian practices are not limited to autocracies, we also investigate their role in democracies.

    Our research often centres on actors and their behaviour within certain institutional and discursive contexts. Relevant actors include political elites, security services, the political opposition and protest movements, and diaspora populations. We study civil-military relations, shrinking spaces for civil society, and regime responses to popular protests, including both concessions and repression. Discourses to justify coercion tie in with general strategies of legitimation and co-optation that matter in authoritarian contexts.

    Our analyses are not limited to the nation-state level, as we also investigate authoritarian politics on the sub-national, the regional, and global levels, taking into account international cooperation, diffusion and learning processes that spread authoritarian practices across the globe. Our research builds on theories from comparative politics and integrates insights from sociology, international relations, foreign policy analysis, and political communication. We employ and welcome a broad variety of methodological approaches and types of data.

    Spokesperson Team 2

    Dr. Maria Josua

    Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson


    President

    Prof. Dr. Amrita Narlikar is President of the GIGA. Her research focuses on international negotiations, economic statecraft, and multilateralism. She has a special interest in India, Asia, and the BRICS.

    Office of the President

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