Jari John (CV here) studied at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg where he received a diploma (Dipl.pol.) in political science in 2013. From 2011 to 2013 he worked as student assistant at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg. Since 2016 Jari has been a regulator contributor to Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Southeast Asia, Bangkok, and became a Doctoral Student at University of Heidelberg in July 2017.
Jari’s research has been focussed on International and Comparative Political Economy in the Asia-Pacific. He wrote his diploma thesis on the emergence of East Asian regional institutions as an opportunistic response by the members of ASEAN to regional power competition in the Asia-Pacific. His doctoral research is concerned with the impact of Asian Varieties of Capitalism on authoritarian persistence in Southeast Asia.
Working Title: Illiberal orders in the ASEAN-4: the role of capitalist varieties in authoritarian persistence
The research project sets out to explain the persistence of illiberal orders in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines (ASEAN-4). Despite considerable differences with regard to the quality and stability of democracy achieved, the four cases share similar deficiencies with regard to the rule of law, especially civic rights and horizontal accountability. With many structural variables unable to explain the common persistence of illiberal features, the research project seeks an institutional explanation of the phenomenon. It is argued that the variety of capitalism found in the ASEAN-4 undermines civil rights and horizontal accountability. In a business environment characterized by high levels of uncertainty close state-business ties compensate for the deficient state of the rule of law. As a result, over time, political and capitalist institutions have formed a characteristic set of compensatory institutional complementarities that are qualitatively different from the mutually reinforcing complementarities found in liberal orders and now contribute to the persistence of illiberalism. To prove this working hypothesis, the analysis looks at the microfoundations of this path dependent phenomenon and traces the process of institutionalization of state-business interactions back to the critical junctures that triggered the era of state formation. It is expected that the comparative qualitative case studies will also shed light on the variance found in other democratic subregimes. Malaysian state-business ties show a comparatively strong degree of formal institutionalization and capacity to absorb business organisations, resulting in a stable (competitive) autocracy. Thailand’s informal state-business ties were unable to accommodate the rise of new businesses, resulting in elite splits and notorious democratic reversals. In the rather stable but defective democracies of Indonesia and the Philippines, strong business elites act as “institutional entrepreneurs” in relatively informal state-business interactions in order to manipulate democratic institutions, thereby raising the risk of gradual democratic backsliding.