Small Grant Scheme on Pandemics, Cities, Regions & Industry: Legacies of transition, populism and compliance with COVID-19 policies. Regional variety in policy compliance across Eastern Europe
The rapid development and severity of COVID-19 crisis has been a test for governments across the world. This project examines government responses to the pandemic within Eastern Europe, a region with research relevance for scholars of post-Communist studies and of European integration processes. Moreover, in the context of the recent populist wave, focusing on this region provides additional insight for other countries that have seen populist leaders govern during the pandemic. I draw on recent research on COVID-19 in the US, Western Europe and the former Soviet space as well as prior work on populism in Western and Eastern Europe to argue that the varied experiences across Eastern Europe can be explained by the diverging legacies these countries had during their post-Communist transition period as well as whether or not the country has recently experienced a rise in populism. Drawing on my extensive work in the region I will compare case studies such as Hungary and Poland which have seen both substantial political and economic success during transition as well as strong right wing populist parties in power curtailing the rule of law and compare them to relatively less successful transitions such as those of Romania or Bulgaria. These qualitative case studies are compared in their COVID-19 policies at the national and subnational level using data collected via the CoronaNet Project. In addition to the qualitative case studies I will also examine the entire region quantitatively to find the way government action and policy compliance mapped onto transition legacies and current populist attitudes across the region.
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With the help of the RSA grant I plan to examine the regional variety of government action and policy compliance across Eastern Europe during the pandemic. I will use the grant to hire RAs for the quantitative data collection and write an article based on the quantitative analysis and qualitative case studies to be published in a regional studies peer-reviewed journal. The RSA grant is an important element that helps my project progress toward publication.