M-RCBG Senior Fellow-Led Study Group: Ioana Petrescu

Populism in Eastern Europe--
New types of libertarian populism vs classic authoritarian populism:
The Romanian case

Monday, April 18 , 4:00-5:00pm
Zoom webinar. Register HERE.

 Discussion between Ioana Petrescu and Dan Sultanescu:

We assume that there is a different impact on growing populism in a European country like Romania, in an electoral context (like 2019, with two rounds of elections – European and Presidential) and post-covid context (2021). 

Different academic studies of populism identify two important ideas to define populism: (1) "the people" is the main source of legitimacy, and the politicians must be accepted as serving the people, and (2) the regular people and the politicians elite are two very different groups, with the public being much more fit to rule and govern than the corrupted elite. There are a lot of new measurements of populism, using these approaches, and our idea is to replicate this in a country like Romania. 

We have measured the populism with two questions: 1) ordinary people would do a better job/do no better solving the country’s problems than elected officials and 2) most elected officials care/don’t care what people like me think. These measures are used by scholars studying populism to capture attitudes about an antagonistic relationship between elites and the people (Stanley, 2011; Spruyt et al. 2016; Schulz et al. 2017). Romania is a relatively new democracy, with less civic participation and a lot of traditional values, and society strongly affected by internal and external struggles (the effects of anti-Western propaganda, the crisis in the European Union etc). In Romania, the populist threat should be much more visible and more active than in other European countries. Because of that, we are interested in adding a third variable when measuring populism (3) the level of rejecting all politicians as corrupt and as people that should be sentenced to prison. 
Using data from 8 surveys from 2019-2021, we will segment the public into different categories, and see if there are different types of populism.

Dan Sultanescu, black and white casual head shot, hand on side of faceDan Sultanescu – political scientist, with a PhD in communication, on a thesis about participation in Romania and the American model. 
Research Director & founder of CPD SNSPA (Center for Civic Participation and Democracy, a think-tank at SNSPA – the National University of Political Science and Public Administration). Starting with 2000, he has worked as a political analyst. In 2005-2007 he was a program coordinator at Institutul Pro, a think-tank of MediaPro. Since 2007, he has coordinated the research activities of Multimedia Foundation.
In the last few years, he develops methods to measure anti-Western propaganda in the online environment, in Romania and in the region, using a combination of classic research and new technologies of collecting and analyzing Big Data. The data collected is also shared with our partners, including the US Embassy in RO.
He has published several academic articles and books – about the relationship between trust in Western actors and compliance with public health guidance, or the effect of conspiracy theories on the increase of populist attitudes in the region. He has vast experience in project management (funded by the EU and NATO), in sociological and communication research including new media, in communication consultancy and in civic activities. He is active in promoting pro-western values in RO, not only at academic level, but also at civic and cultural level. Email: dan.sultanescu@snspa.ro

Photo of Ioana Petrescu at her deskIoana Petrescu is a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and the President of Simply Green, a Romanian environmental NGO. Dr. Petrescu is a former Romanian Finance Minister. While minister, she pursued policies to cut tax evasion and tax avoidance, promote financial transparency, improve tax compliance, lower the tax burden for businesses and keep fiscal discipline. She also served in the government as an economic adviser to the prime minister and head of his delivery unit, where she monitored the implementation of the prime minister’s priorities in procurement, employment, energy and tax compliance. She is an international consultant on issues such as tax reform, central government delivery and local public services and runs the Center for Leadership and Innovation at the National School of Political Science and Public Administration in Bucharest. In the past, she also served as an expert for the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. She was an Assistant Professor at University of Maryland and she holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. She published in various academic journals and newspapers. Her 2017 book, Essays in Taxation and International Relations, analyzes issues such as flat taxation and government revenues. Ioana’s research project, Making Public Policy in Adolescent Democracies: Paths to Adulthood, explores good practices in the delivery of public goods and services in new democracies characterized by corruption and clientelism, low paid bureaucrats, poor institutions, frequent political turnover, unclear legislation, and little transparency. Her faculty sponsor is Jeffrey Frankel, James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard Kennedy School Email: ioanapetrescu@hks.harvard.edu