Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier authored an article in Project Syndicate about the upcoming election year in Germany. The country is preparing for a “super election year,” which will include federal elections for the Bundestag, regional elections in six states and a vote for leadership of the Christian Democratic Union. “Because German voters tend to prefer a cautious leader with a steady hand, Merkel fit her country’s collective psyche like a bespoke glove,” Anheier said, highlighting the successes of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 15 years as party leader. Immigration, the economy, public administration and the COVID-19 pandemic will all be important issues in the upcoming elections. He noted that while Germany’s mainstream political parties have shied away from open debate of contentious issues, German voters will no longer be able to “sit back and place their trust in Merkel to navigate the shoals of the twenty-first century.”
The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs has received a $3 million gift from the Berggruen Institute to produce and disseminate the Los Angeles-based think tank’s Berggruen Governance Index, which evaluates countries based on their quality of political and administrative governance.
With the capacity of democratic governance being tested around the world, the index seeks to deepen public understanding of the relationship between democracy, government competence and the provision of public goods.
“The Luskin School is thrilled to partner with the Berggruen Institute on this incredibly important and timely work,” said Dean Gary Segura. “In a period where governments the world over struggle to cope with global crises, including the current pandemic, the effectiveness, transparency and capacity of states to care for the needs of their people is of critical importance. With this gift, the Luskin School can help advance our understanding of what makes government effective.”
For policymakers and policy analysts, the index will serve as a much-needed tool for grasping how governance relates to social and economic progress in various political contexts. A better understanding of these relationships, say UCLA Luskin researchers, is particularly relevant as liberal democracies face increasing threats from autocratic rivals.
“We are excited to deepen our relationships at UCLA through this partnership with the Luskin School,” said Dawn Nakagawa, executive vice president of the Berggruen Institute. “This important collaboration will lead to new insights about how to enhance government capacity in ways that lead to better quality-of-life outcomes.”
“The Berggruen Institute gift allows us to continue exploring the relationship between the quality of democracy and the quality of life — a crucial issue in today’s world.”
— Helmut Anheier
Led by Helmut Anheier, an adjunct professor of social welfare, the team based at UCLA Luskin will curate, advance and disseminate the Berggruen Governance Index over a five-year period, helping to increase awareness of the index’s findings among policymakers, analysts and the general public through various events and media formats.
“The Berggruen Institute gift allows us to continue exploring the relationship between the quality of democracy and the quality of life — a crucial issue in today’s world,” Anheier said. “Governance is about how effectively we address public problems. The index is designed to reveal how different countries are managing in this regard.”
Anheier, who is also a professor of sociology at the Hertie School in Berlin, where the index originated, noted that other governance indices do not focus on the process of governance that is central to the Berggruen Governance Index, which looks closely at how the delivery of public goods contributes to the quality of life of citizens.
The 2019 Berggruen Governance Index analyzed 25 different aspects of the performance of 38 countries over a 14-year period, tracking national differences in three crucial areas of governance: quality of democracy, quality of government and quality of life.
The Berggruen Institute was founded in 2010 by investor and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen, and editor Nathan Gardels.
Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier co-authored a Project Syndicate opinion piece arguing that social media and other digital channels have changed the way conspiracy theories are consumed and distributed — and that the only way to counter them is to use the same technologies. The far-right QAnon and other groups espousing conspiratorial thinking use social media to disseminate unfiltered ideas at no cost, wrote Anheier and Andrea Roemmele of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Disinformation has “always been part of the warp and woof of politics,” they wrote, but “rarely have political debates been so unmoored from widely accepted truths as they are today.” This has led to violent and extremist actions and undermined confidence in experts and institutions, they wrote. To combat the threat, they call for a professional, nonpartisan, nongovernmental “conspiracy monitor” empowered to scour sites and social media feeds, identify dangerous messages and initiate action to block content.
“For government, the most important objectives are to reverse two key trends: rising economic inequality and declining social mobility,” said Helmut Anheier, adjunct professor of social welfare, in a recent Project Syndicate interview on German economic and social reform. Anheier, who also holds posts at Hertie School of Governance and Heidelberg University in Germany, argued that policies that could advance these goals include a livable minimum wage, reforms to the system for delivering unemployment and welfare benefits, and massive investments in education and skills training. Anheier, editor-in-chief of the new UC Press publication Global Perspectives, also commented on a number of topics including globalization, philanthropy in the time of COVID-19 and lessons to be learned from Germany’s past. “Germany has come to terms with its history … but it still hasn’t developed a clear vision of a multi-ethnic society – vital to prevent the kind of divisiveness one sees today in the United States and United Kingdom.”
Global Perspectives, a new UC Press publication, is now live online with the first of a series of articles designed to advance contemporary social science research and debates across disciplines. Helmut Anheier, adjunct professor of social welfare at UCLA Luskin, serves as editor-in-chief of the online-only endeavor. “We start from the premise that the world that gave rise to the social sciences in their present form is no more,” Anheier said in a Q&A on the UC-based blog. Anheier, who also holds posts at Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and the Max Weber Institute at Heidelberg University, Germany, explained that the overall vision was to “assemble a group of leading scholars that together can create a significant momentum to overcome the inertia that is inherent in the rigid disciplinary and national silos.” Global Perspectives is “open to the whole thematic range of the social sciences, and in particular those phenomena that are no longer located neatly within established geographical or national boundaries, if they ever were,” Anheier wrote in the publication’s inaugural essay. The first article available is “Recoupling Economic and Social Progress” by Katharina Lima de Miranda and Dennis J. Snower. Other titles will focus on issues including trade, markets, security, the environment, media, justice, law, governance, culture, identities, technology, shifting geographies and migration. “The concepts and empirical bases needed for a profound understanding of financial flows, climate change, intellectual property rights, technological advances or migration flows are just some examples that illustrate the complexity of the research task ahead,” Anheier said.