Does IMF conditionality lead to political illiberalism? A comparative South East European perspective

Does IMF conditionality lead to political illiberalism? A comparative South East European perspective

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 - 5:00pm
Seminar Room, European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HR
Merih Angin (Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford)
Saliha Metinsoy (Wadham College, Oxford)
Alex Kentikelenis (Trinity College, Oxford)
Charles Enoch (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Othon Anastasakis (St Antony’s College, Oxford); Adis Merdzanovic (St Antony’s College, Oxford)

SEESOX Seminar Series
The rise of illiberalism in South East Europe
The current European crises appear to have facilitated the (re-)emergence of illiberalism as a viable alternative for political elites, both within the European Union and on its periphery. Arguably, this effect has been greater in transition countries that found their path towards liberal democracy disrupted, as well as in countries that already face internal challenges in terms of their legal, political, social, or economic environments. The seminar series will look at the conditions that allow illiberal ideas to infiltrate and illiberal practices to develop; how such ideas are expressed and instrumentalised in different fields of social interaction; their impact on politics and economics; and, finally, what, if any, counter-reactions they have produced. Are these temporary setbacks caused by the crises, or a frustration with the European Union and certain of its policies? Or are we witnessing a profound and longer-lasting challenge to the primacy of the liberal democratic model?​

This seminar will discuss the connection between IMF conditionality and political developments towards illiberalism by looking at certain countries in South East Europe and beyond. Merih Angin will discuss how the AK Party (AKP) managed to overcome its weaknesses within Turkish politics, during its early years, with the help of IMF conditionality as an external commitment. She will speak about the state transformation with a particular focus on the privatisations of large-scale state-economic enterprises completed during the successive AKP governments in power from 2002 to 2008. Saliha Metinsoy will discuss what causes political unrest under IMF programmes. She will put Greece in comparative perspective with the Irish, Latvian, and Portuguese cases and will speak about the impact of labour mobility and IMF labour conditionality in generating unrest. Alexander Kentikelenis’ talk will focus on structural adjustment and the social dynamics of liberal backslide. He will examine how policy reforms introduced after the onset of the economic crisis in Greece have affected the population, and present evidence of how these dynamics feed into broader social processes that challenge existing institutional arrangements.
In association with PEFM

Merih Angin is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government of the University Oxford. Her research interests lie in the areas of international political economy, international organizations with a particular focus on the IMF, computational simulation and multi-method research in social sciences, as well as investment arbitration. Her current research aims to open the black box of the negotiations, shedding light on the processes leading to variation in IMF conditionality, by process tracing on the Turkish and Romanian cases, strengthened by a computational simulation of negotiations over conditionality during program design. Merih holds a Ph.D. degree in International Relations/Political Science from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, a Master’s degree in International Relations from Middle East Technical University and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Bilkent University. She was a visiting scholar at the Mortara Center for International Studies of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University during the 2013-2014 academic year. Her work has been published in international journals such as Journal of World Energy Law & BusinessJournal of International Dispute Settlement and New Perspectives on Turkey.

Alexander Kentikelenis is a social scientist with research interests in the fields of political economy, organization studies, public health, and international development. Currently, he is based at the University of Oxford, where he is a fellow of Trinity College and lectures on public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government. He is also director of research in global economic governance at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Rising Powers. Before joining Oxford, Alexander was a fellow in global social protection at Harvard University, and a research associate in political economy and sociology at the University of Cambridge. He has published extensively in leading academic journals, and is currently working on a book manuscript entitled ‘Austerity without Safety Net’ (forthcoming by Oxford University Press).

Saliha Metinsoy has recently completed her DPhil in Politics at the University of Oxford and currently teaches at the LSE and as a visiting tutor at Oxford. She teaches courses on comparative and international political economy and qualitative and quantitative methodology. Her research interests include the impact of labour market status on distributional preferences, IMF programmes, and international impact on democratic institutions.