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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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From the Coup to the Escalation of Violence: The transition to democracy in Romania

Federico Matías Rossi

Type: Working Paper
Year: 2012

Romania was the only example of violent regime change in the central and south eastern European milieu, with massive mobilizations both in favour and against change and the execution of the dictator. In other words, there seems to have been an attempted coup d’état in Romania, one that was successful thanks to the unplanned escalation of violence organized from below without any links to the intra-elite disputes. This process started locally in a community linked with the outside world able to draw on supportive networks. Contention quickly scaled up to the capital city and produced a vacuum of power as a result of the anti-Ceaușescu communists’ decision to immediately topple and execute the dictator. This opened the way to a chaotic moment of violence that was not organized by supporters or opponents of the regime, but rather produced by the vacuum of power in a collapsed sultanistic totalitarian regime. The lack of international support for democratization, weak local civil society and unorganized violence allowed the neo-communists to settle in power. However, a revolution was already ongoing, notwithstanding the neo-communist elites’ wish to merely modify the previous regime. This led to the emergence of a democratic setting.

EUI SPS - Cosmos Working Paper 2012/13.

2012WP13COSMOS

News

06/10/2017

Open Democracy Post - "The streets will always be ours" - Catalonia, a referendum from below

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Although some still conceive of the referendum as launched by a pro-independence vanguard, the elite story falls short of explaining the resilient participation of a large part of Catalan civil society. This post at Open Democracy addresses this issue from a different angle.

24/09/2017

New Publication Out - "Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis"

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A timely publication to shed light on the link between social movements that formed as a consequence of the 2008 financial crash and the referendums' dynamic and results.

25/08/2017

Donatella Della Porta con Yanis Varoufakis alla 13esima conferenza ESA

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Wednesday, August 30th (8pm-9.30pm) professor della Porta, who directs the Center on Social Movement Studies(Cosmos), will dialogue with Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Minister of Finance during the first Tsipras government, about the future of Europe and the social consequences of neoliberal economies

Publications

Monograph - 2018

Social Movements and Civil War : When Protests for Democratization Fail

Donatella della Porta, Teije Hidde Donker , Bogumila Hall , Emin Poljarevic
This book investigates the origins of civil wars which emerge from failed attempts at democratization. The main aim of this volume is to develop a theoretical explanation of the conditions under which and the mechanisms through which social movements' struggles for democracy ends up in civil war.

Monograph - 2017

Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis

Donatella Della Porta, Francis O'Connor, Martin Portos and Anna Subirats Ribas
Out now "Social movements and referendum from below", the first book that bridges the gap between social movement studies and research on direct democracy. It draws on social movement theory to understand the nature of popular mobilisation in referendums using unique case studies such as the referendum on independence in Scotland, the consultations on independence in Catalonia, the Italian referendum on water, the referendum on the Troika proposals in Greece and the referendum on the debt repayment in Iceland.