17 Oct @15:00

Democracy and the Mafia

Speaker(s): Professor Federico Varese

Date: 15:00 on Thu, 17 Oct 2019 - Thu, 17 Oct 2019

Duration: 2 hours

Seminar Series: Other Seminar

Website: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/events/democracy-and-mafia

What is the relationship between democracy and the mafia? The paper will first define the mafia as a form of governance and argue that it sits on a conceptual continuum of governance where we can also find insurgencies and states. Traditional mafias normally emerged at the time of the transition to the democracy and coexisted within democratic states. As such, in their histories mafias have tended to support centrist parties, get involved in the illegal market for votes, and shun away from/victimise leftist movements. The paper will chart these relationships, how different electoral systems have helped the mafias' penetration of the market for votes, and explore what happens to mafias when the democratic state morphs into an authoritarian one.

The paper will draw upon the history of the Sicilian, Japanese, Russian and Hong Kong mafias. It will pay special attention to recent developments in Hong Kong and Russia, where mafias are under pressure from authoritarian regimes and appear to have become 'thugs-for-hire', involved in violently enforcing unpopular policies, at the cost of losing their autonomy.

This seminar will be held in the Wharton Room at All Souls College.