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CONFERENCE | Strengthening Political Accountability in Southeast and East Asia (25/26 May 2012, Trier)

„Strengthening Political Accountability in Southeast and East Asia:
Approaches, Achievements and Setbacks During the Past Decade”


This conference seeks to examine both the purposive reforms and the creeping changes that have affected the realization of accountable governance in major political systems of East and Southeast Asia during the past decade. Since the Asian Financial Crisis, deep flaws in political institutions and processes, from the weakness of parliamentary and judicial checks and balances to "crony capitalism" and pervasive corruption, have become an issue of open contestation not only in the region's democratic but also in its authoritarian and hybrid polities. Conference contributions should address the issue of accountability from one of the following three perspectives and dimensions:

  • Horizontal accountability: reconfigurations of the formal and informal 'checks and balances' that govern relations between different state bodies. This includes not just the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the state, but also more specialized organs such as anti-corruption commissions, audit courts, regulatory agencies, or consultative/advocacy bodies.
  • Vertical accountability: shifts in the division of powers, capabilities and responsibilities between national and sub-national levels of government. This dimension includes the potential for constraining the power of national governments through regional action (coordinated through constitutional institutions or through informal practices) and the leeway for local decisions that deviate from national policies (including the initiation of institutional and policy innovations from local jurisdictions).
  • Electoral and civic accountability: changes in the mechanisms by which citizens hold those in power accountable, especially changing practices of electoral campaigning and competition (including the chances of replacing incumbents) but also popular protest and civic organizations (single-issue movements and beyond).

Conference participants are free to address both formal institutions and informal rules of the game and practices that help to understand the diversity of approaches employed to strengthen political accountability or to deflect calls for accountable governance. Some of the following issues should be treated in an explicit, yet selective manner:

  • What purposive institutional reforms have been undertaken by, or forced onto, policymakers with the goal of improving political accountability?
  • Can we identify power reconfigurations and new socio-economic forces that have had a direct impact on improving or weakening political accountability?
  • Is there evidence of specific informal local modes to generate political accountability in the political systems studied? More generally: Do we find institutional innovations on the ground that produce political accountability yet go beyond established models and explanations of mainstream political science?
  • Did exogenous factors (such as external assistance, regional demonstration/neighborhood effect or global economic downturns) influence domestic approaches to accountability?
  • Do the observed changes in institutions and practices of political accountability necessitate a rethinking or reassessment of regime type?


Language: German

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