Geschwister-Scholl-Institut für Politikwissenschaft (GSI)




ERC Advanced Grant: SYNCPOL - Synchronized Politics: Multiple Times and Political Power

Project description

Democratic policy-makers in Europe’s multi-level system grapple with multiple times, since different levels of government, parliaments and administrative agencies follow distinct time rules and time preferences. Time clashes are an ever-present threat. Synchronisation is, therefore, a critical, but very little understood dimension of public policy-making. It is designed to avoid systematic time clashes by structuring the timing, speed, frequencies, sequences, durations and time horizons in policy-making.

Over the past decade, simultaneous demands for “faster action”, “more time” and “extended time horizons” have pushed multi-level synchronisation in opposing directions. In light of major contestation around synchronisation, SYNCPOL asks:

  1. What happens when political demands for “faster action”, “more time” and “extended time horizons” challenge synchronisation arrangements in multi-level policy domains?
  2. How does the reshaping of synchronisation arrangements alter the vertical and horizontal distribution of political power amongst governments, parliaments and administrative agencies and the types of power in Europe’s multi-level system?

Drawing on institutionalist theory, SYNCPOL conceptualises synchronisation arrangements as a critical variable that is fundamental to the distribution of political power amongst policy-makers. It rigorously probes hypotheses on this crucial connection employing a mixed-methods design that combines document analysis, interviews, a major survey, dictionary-based text analysis and process tracing. The project examines synchronisation across EU, national and subnational governments, parliaments and administrative agencies, with a focus on six multi-level democracies: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain. The analysis covers two policy domains - migration-asylum and public health policy – since the early 2010s. SYNCPOL will generate fundamentally new insights into how time shapes democratic multi-level politics and policy.

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