The Politics of Protest

The project “The Politics of Protest in Central Europe” organized by the Warsaw office of Heinrich Böll Foundation in partnership with Collegium Civitas university examines recent protests in six Central European countries: Bosnia, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. We discuss the background, causes and forms of current mobilizations. The case studies of marches, riots and demonstrations will help us to develop common analytical framework for understanding political protest in CEE countries. The project is led by Mateusz Fałkowski (



Ionel N. SAVA, The 2nd generation of grassroots movements in CEE. The case of “Save Bucharest“, Romania (Thursday, 24 September 2015, 11-13, Boell Foundation, Żurawia 45)

Increased urban and environmental activism in Central and Eastern Europe could indicate the emergence of a new wave of grassroots social movements. The city movements in Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic, the anti-corruption protest in Bulgaria as well the “Rosia Montana” green movement in Romania suggest new mobilization patterns and new forms of social participation that are locally-centered and more community-oriented. If Solidarność was the “civil rights movement” of Eastern Europe during transition to democracy and western integration, then what forms of current collective action will prevail in the nearest future? Ionel Sava from the University of Bucharest argues that new forms of social participation seem to be culturally motivated and community-oriented rather than reflecting class struggle. The case of “Save Bucharest” is analyzed as a laboratory where new styles, social meanings and cultural critiques are informally exercised and eventually institutionalized. plakat – Rumunia – 24-09


Dietrich HERRMANN, PEGIDA in Dresden and elsewhere – more than right-wing populism? (Tuesday, 7 July 2015, 10-12, Boell Foundation, Żurawia 45)

Dr. Dietrich Herrmann (University of Dresden) will analyse PEGIDA demonstrations in Germany. With the acronym PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident), a group of men began “walking” every Monday evening through the streets of Dresden, reaching at the top 25.000 participants in January. The organizational form of Monday demonstrations  referred to famous political marches “Montagsdemonstrationen” in East Germany in 1989/1990. Xenophobic attitudes were clearly visible from the beginning but that could hardly be sufficient to attract so many people. Most participants declared themselves to be ordinary people from the centre of the political spectrum. But beyond the undeniable anti-immigrant attitudes of many PEGIDA-adherents, there seems to be a general challenge to the concept of representative liberal democracy of the type that has been successful in the 20th and 21st centuries. plakat – 07-07-2015



Daniel PŁATEK, Mobilizacja narodowej prawicy w Polsce: marginalizacja, instytucjonalizacja, radyklaizacja (czwartek, 25 czerwca 2015, 11-13, Fundacja Boella, ul. Żurawia 45)

Narodową i skrajną prawicę w Polsce Daniel Płatek  (doktorant w Szkole Nauk Społecznych przy IFiS PAN) analizuje jako ruch społeczny zwracając szczególną uwagę na poziom meso (organizacji) oraz poziom działania. W swoim wystąpieniu kładzie nacisk raczej na polityczne możliwości (political opportunity structures) niż na społeczne zagrożenia; raczej na dyskursywne okazje wykorzystywane przez aktywistów ruchu niż ich gniew, wreszcie na repertuar i formy protestu niż po prostu przemoc. Analiza form i celów działania oraz tematów mobilizacji służy zrozumieniu, dlaczego aktorzy wykorzystują przemoc lub wykorzystują metody non-violence. Przedmiotem analizy będzie też obecność skrajnej prawicy w przestrzeni publicznej i jej postulaty odnoszące się do takich kwestii, jak tożsamość narodowa, suwerenność i walka z jej wrogami. Badania przeprowadzone metodą „protest event analysis” wykorzystujące materiały prasowe z lat 1989-2013 pozwalają na postawienie tezy o trzech wyraźnie zaznaczających się fazach mobilizacji narodowej prawicy w Polsce: marginalizacji, instytucjonalizacji i radykalizacji. plakat


Mihály GYIMESI, Protesters on Both Sides of a Barricade: Political Mobilizations in Hungary 2010-2014 (Thursday, 28 May 2015, 10-12, Boell Foundation, Żurawia 45)

Mihály Gyimesi (PhD candidate at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and researcher at at the Centre on Social Movement Studies COSMOS of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies) will talk about Hungarian protest sector during the years of the second Orbán government. Actors from all over the political spectrum became active in a wave of contention partly inspired by the international anti-austerity protest cycle. Still, this national peak of mobilization meant rather contained events attended by the politically most active. Democracy frames gained momentum with large-scale left-liberal protests organized in defense of liberal democracy during the years when movements of the crisis in Europe mobilized precisely against its flaws. The subsequent pro-Orbán marches produced the highest turnout rates, occasionally attracting around a hundred thousand participants. They reacted to oppositional and EU critiques of the new system of “illiberal democracy” by advocating a populist conception where the emerging will of the people is in focus instead of institutional settings. Protest event analysis and secondary sources will be used to explain interactions between popular support and dissent. plakat


CHIARA MILAN, “Sow hunger, reap anger“: Grassroots protests and new collective identities in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Wednesday, 29 April 2015, 4-6 pm, Boell Foundation, Żurawia 45)

Chiara Milan (PhD candidate in the Department of Social and Political Sciences of the European University Institute (EUI), and Research Associate at the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS) of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies) will talk about protests in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Between 2013 and 2014 Bosnia-Herzegovina witnessed the first mass protests since the end of the 1992-95 war. In June 2013 the failure of the national parliament to solve a deadlock in the disbursement of national ID numbers spawned protests in the main urban centers of the country, lasting for over a month. In February 2014, the violent reaction of the police to a demonstration organized by the unemployed workers of the privatized factories in the former industrial hub of Tuzla sparked solidarity rallies all over the country. The talk provides an overview of the 2013-2014 Bosnian unrest, analysing the roots of its emergence, the social composition and forms of organization, with a specific focus on the self-organized platforms for the articulation of citizens’ demands called “plenums”, as well as the achievements and shortcomings of such a form of civic resistance. plakat

IVAN KRASTEV, Democracy Disrupted. The Politics of Global Protest (Thursday 19 March 2015, 10.30-12.00, Collegium Civitas, seminar room 1222)
Ivan Krastev (Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia and Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna (IWM) will talk about the relationship between protest and democracy. Is protest a better instrument than elections for keeping elites accountable? Does the last wave of protests signal a radical change in the way politics will be practiced? Or are the protests all around the world simply a spectacular but ultimately insignificant eruption of public anger? Is it the technology, the economics, the mass psychology or just the zeitgeist that’s caused this global explosion of revolt? Will it be the empowering energy of the protests or the conservative backlash against them that will shape the future of democratic politics? plakat


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