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The first annual conference “Democratic backsliding in the era of permanent crises” will take place in Rome

Sofija Tovarović

Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law Ljubljana is organising a conference entitled “Democratic backsliding in the era of permanent crises” that will take place in Rome, Italy, between 26 and 28 June 2024. The conference is part of the international project SOS4Democracy.

Last year, Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law Ljubljana, in collaboration with ten international partners, initiated a four-year European project called “SOS4Democracy – Social sciences for democracy: A training program for improving research on illiberal systems and finding ways to build more robust democracies”.

The SOS4Democracy project aims to create an alliance of research and higher education institutions, civil society associations and media organizations to strengthen scientific research on the recent turn to authoritarian systems in South-Eastern Europe. At the same time, the project establishes a new training program that will strengthen critical research on the recent turn to authoritarian systems.

In order to share knowledge and foster international cooperation, the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, in cooperation with Roma Tre University, is organising a conference entitled “Democratic backsliding in the era of permanent crises” which will take place in Rome between 26 and 28 June 2024. Researchers from social sciences and humanities, practitioners, activists, students, and others engaged in research and advocacy on the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms in contemporary democracies will present at the conference.

Democratic backsliding will be addressed in three thematic blocks

When exploring democratic backsliding in countries across Europe (e.g., Hungary, Poland) and other parts of the world (e.g., the US, India, Brazil, Venezuela), scholars developed concepts such as illiberal democracy, authoritarian populism, constitutional retrogression, and competitive authoritarianism. As we have witnessed over the past years, the turn to illiberal politics represents a serious challenge for the future development of both fragile and seemingly robust democracies. The international conference entitled “Democratic backsliding in the era of permanent crises” will therefore address the following topics:

Illiberal systems, states of emergency, and the centralization of power: This thematic block will address measures used by illiberal governments to centralize power in the executive branch; measures used in illiberal systems to weaken the judiciary and the legislative branch; measures initiated to avoid supervision from oversight mechanisms; the use of states of emergency to consolidate illiberal regimes …etc.

lliberal systems and the suppression of opponents: Presentations in this block will explore how illiberal governments justify the suppression of political opponents (e.g., opposition leaders, trade unions, university teachers and researchers) and groups perceived as incompatible with illiberal “values” (e.g., migrants, the LGBTIQ+ community, religious minorities, ethnic minorities); what measures illiberal governments use to suppress their opponents (e.g., criminalization, economic measures); how illiberal governments use surveillance and modern technology to monitor their opponents …etc.

Illiberal systems, resistance, and the rule of law: This block will address how to engage civil society in organizing resistance against illiberal regimes; how to find new solutions for creating more robust democracies with an effective checks-and-balances system; how to de-securitize and de-criminalize opponents of illiberal systems; … etc.

Collaboration of ten project partners from five countries

The SoS4Democracy project is coordinated by Dr Vasja Badalič, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Criminology. Ten project partners from five countries participate in the project: Institute of Criminology, Media house Delo (Slovenia), Roma Tre University, Libera – Associations, names, and numbers against mafias (Italy), Vrije University Brussels (Belgium), IstanPol – Institute for political science studies in Istanbul, Boğaziçi University, Özyeğin University (Turkey), and the University of Sarajevo, Association of Citizens Why not? (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe program, Widening Participation and Spreading Excellence – WIDERA.

More information about the project is available here:

The conference programme is available here:

The SOS4Democracy project can be followed via social media: