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DI Launches New Project on Organized Religion and Democratic Backsliding

In collaboration with Hertie School and EUI, we are happy to announce the launch of our new project, entitled Organized Religion, Constitutions and Democratic Backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe (ReLiCon).

This interdisciplinary collaborative research project, funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program, under the CIVICA Research project, led by a team of four experts from the Hertie School, CEU, and EUI, seeks to lay the foundations of and conduct a pilot study for a larger investigation on the role that organized majority / (de facto) state religion plays in democratic backsliding and the rise of illiberal democracy. It focuses more closely on its impact on constitutional and judicial politics of fundamental rights in ECE.

The research will explore the ways in which different constitutional texts and judicial interpretation have become venues for continued or unprecedented contestation of fundamental rights and liberties through the use of Orthodox Christian and Catholic value claims in Hungary and Poland, and in the understudied cases of Bulgaria, Czechia, Romania, Latvia and Moldova. In doing so, it will identify

  1. factors / forces that create opportunities for the pursuit of religious narratives that feed the retrogression of fundamental rights and democratic backsliding and
  2. factors / forces that boost democratic resilience / halt the retrogression of fundamental rights (and the spread of illiberal democracy).

In addition to disseminating the research findings through a publication, a one-day workshop on the theme of the project held at the CEU Democracy Institute in Budapest will facilitate engagement with a network of relevant stakeholders. The project is thus aimed at establishing a CIVICA-led wider consortium of experts working at the intersection of religion, constitutionalism, fundamental rights and democratic backsliding from different disciplines and institutions, amongst CIVICA partners and beyond. The core team will also develop an agenda for further research and apply for a major grant that would allow to continue and consolidate the project beyond CIVICA’s seed funding.

Our Co-Director, Renata Uitz is the CEU lead researcher in the project.

Cover photo: Facebook / Orban Viktor
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