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Akos Kopper, Andras Szalai, Magdalena Gora: Populist Foreign Policy in Central and Eastern Europe: Poland, Hungary and the Shock of the Ukraine Crisis

Viktor Orban of Hungary and Jaroslaw Kaczynski of Poland are symbols of successful, long-standing populist leaders in power, our Research Affiliate Andras Szalai, Akos Kopper (ELTE) and Magdalena Gora (Jagiellonian University) write in their chapter in Populist Foreign Policy: Regional Perspectives of Populism in the International Scene.

“Therefore, within populism studies, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) enjoys special attention as an interesting case study of a disrupted (successful) democratization but also in its role as a source of inspiration for other movements particularly within the European Union,” they argue, adding that “the past decade has shown considerable similarities in the ways in which these two populist actors attack democratic institutions, solidify their hold over domestic audiences, and appear as disruptors of the European status quo.

The chapter, however, “problematizes this apparent uniformity of CEE populisms in the realm of foreign policy (FP) and highlights differences between Hungary and Poland that characterized their FP well before Russia’s war on Ukraine.” The authors argue that these differences are “rooted in the ideological depth of these actors. Whereas Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban is not bound by ideology and therefore can flexibly take opportunistic political actions and construct narratives that give meaning to these moves, Poland’s populists are much more (self)constrained in their decisions as these have to be ideologically consistent.”

The book looks at populist foreign policy via inter-state comparisons across the world's continents, engages in cross regional comparisons to highlight patterns of populist foreign policy, and provides a new theoretical framework for the study of populist foreign policies. It is part of the Global Foreign Policy Studies series.

Learn more about the chapter here.

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