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Prominent in the EU's recent transformations has been the tendency to advance extraordinary measures in the name of crisis response. From emergency lending to macro-economics, border management to Brexit, policies are pursued unconventionally and as measures of last resort.

Event details of The Politics of last Resort
Date 14 April 2021
Time 15:30 -17:00

In 2019 Jonathan White’s published his book 'The Politics of last Resort: Governing by Emergency in the European Union' will be discussed. The theme is of renewed relevance in light of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Join us for a presentation and discussion of his book. 

In his book, Jonathan White book investigates the nature, rise, and implications of this politics of emergency as it appears in the transnational setting. As the author argues, recourse to this method of rule is an expression of the deeper weakness of executive power in today's Europe. It is how policy-makers contend with rising socio-economic power and diminishing representative ties, seeking fall-back authority in the management of crises. In the structure of the EU they find incentives and few impediments. Whereas political exceptionalism tends to be associated with sovereign power, here it is power's diffusion and functional disaggregation that spurs politics in the emergency mode. The effect of these governing patterns is not just to challenge and reshape ideas of EU legitimacy rooted in constitutionalism and technocracy. The politics of emergency fosters a counter-politics in its mirror image, as populists and others play with themes of necessity and claim the right to disobedience in extremis. The book examines the prospects for democracy once the politics of emergency takes hold, and what it might mean to put transnational politics on a different footing.

About the author

Jonathan White is the Deputy Head of the European Institute and Professor of Politics. He joined LSE as Lecturer in September 2008, after completing his PhD at the European University Institute in Florence.  He has held visiting positions at the Berlin Institute of Advanced Studies (Wissenschaftskolleg), Harvard, Stanford, the Humboldt University, Hertie School, Sciences Po in Paris and the Australian National University. Before his PhD he was a research fellow at the Czech Institute of International Relations in Prague, and a lecturer at universities in the Czech Republic and Albania.  His latest book, Politics of Last Resort: Governing by Emergency in the European Union, was published with Oxford University Press in December 2019.  Other books include The Meaning of Partisanship (with Lea Ypi, Oxford University Press, 2016) and Political Allegiance after European Integration (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).  His work has appeared in the American Political Science ReviewJournal of PoliticsPolitical StudiesModern Law ReviewPolitical TheoryJournal of Common Market StudiesBritish Journal of Political ScienceBritish Journal of Sociology, and Boston Review.  He has also written for The Guardian and New Statesman.


Nik de Boer, Assistant Professor in constitutional law at the University of Amsterdam.


Anniek de Ruijter, Associate Professor European law at the University of Amsterdam.

Marc de Wilde, Professor of Jurisprudence with a focus on the history of legal thought and head of the Department of General Jurisprudence at the University of Amsterdam.

Jonathan Zeitlin, Professor of Public Policy and Governance, and Distinguished Faculty Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences (FMG) at the University of Amsterdam.