Conceptual Framework

In most of the concepts of quality of democracy, accountability is ascribed a central role (see Beetham 2004, Diamond/Morlino 2005, Merkel 2010). Although conceptual approaches of democratic quality may differ, they mostly agree that rule of law and holding accountable of political actors is a vital requisite for democracies and a yardstick for evaluating the quality of democracy. Accountability and rule of law are terms eagerly employed not only by researchers focused on quality of democracy, but also by journalists and politicians.

Especially in the last decades, both – accountability and rule of law – are confronted with new challenges or development. Just to mention two issues: The emergence of fundamentalist terrorism revitalized the question of the balance of freedom and security. How can we evaluate the fact that France is continuing to be under emergency rule? Another aspect derives from the emergence of digital media and the questions if and to what degree government should steer or intervene in online communication (e.g. hate speech), and how legal aspects (privacy, author’s rights etc.) should be treated.

These challenges refer to established democracies as well as to young democracies. But the  central question is if they react in a different way and if they choose different policy options. Moreover, we can observe infringements especially of accountability and rule of law in young democracies, see Central Eastern Europe, Latin America etc.  However, how can we define the threshold between the reduction of quality of democracy and the process of incremental eroding of democratic institutions and procedures?

The primary objective of the workshop is to determine at what moment and in what field (e.g. in executive, legislative, judicial, society) occur changes which in one country stimulate positive effects on the functioning of accountability and rule and law, while in another result in the emergence of numerous delays and growth in negative post-transformation phenomena. In order to explain the causes of existing differences and similarities of the functioning of accountability and rule and law, it is important to examine the link between institutional solutions, policies implemented, and the time that passed from the moment of consolidation of political systems.


Marianne Kneuer, University of Hildesheim

Anna Sroka, Univesity of Warsaw

Małgorzata Kaczorowska, University of Warsaw

Agnieszka Bejma, University of Warsaw