“The Russian aggression in Ukraine in February 2022 highlighted the urgency of updating general assumptions about the post-communist region,” our Junior Research Fellow Balint Madlovics and Senior Research Fellow Balint Magyar write in their CEU DI Working Paper.
De- and Re-Democratization (DRD)
With its twin focus on democratic crises and democratic subversion (“de-democratization”) as well as on democratic resistance and democratizing struggles (“re-democratization”), the DRD research group places itself at the very center of contemporary debates on the global crisis of democracy. Within its broad thematic mandate, it addresses fundamental questions on democratic failure, subversion, resistance, and polarization.
- Democratic failure: The institutions of liberal democracy promise liberty, equality, and popular control. But they do not run on autopilot and may fail in many ways. More often than not, across world regions, democratic regimes are less deliberative, fair, and effective, and more unequal, violent, and self-referential, than we would like to see them. Riding a global wave, populists declare existing democracies bankrupt. Very often, their sweeping condemnations of democratic regimes have little to do with genuine democratic deficiencies. We should strive to understand them nonetheless: How can we recognize populists when we see them? Which are the claims they level against liberal democracy? Why do these resonate among citizens? Which is their potential for democratic renewal or destruction? We should not, however, grant populists the monopoly of democratic self-critique they claim for themselves. The critical self-reflection of democracy is an integral part of its defense.
- Democratic subversion: All around the globe, illiberal governments have been subverting democracy through practices that maintain the façade of democracy while hollowing out its spirit. In slow, stepwise paths of escalation, they have been picking from “the menu of manipulation” that sustains electoral authoritarian regimes. Which are their precise trajectories? To what extent do they transform political, economic, and social institutions? How do they manage to overcome societal and institutional constraints? Which are the structural, institutional, and political conditions of their success? Which are their material, and which their ideological, bases? Which their conceptions of democracy? Whom do they include, and whom exclude, as legitimate members of the nation and the people? What do we know about the extent and sources of their popularity?
- Democratic resistance: To the degree that illiberal governments succeed in the gradual subversion of democracy, democrats find themselves struggling within the complex two-level game that defines electoral authoritarianism. At the game level of electoral competition, they need to persuade voters. At the meta-game level of institutional conflict, they need to overcome authoritarian structures and practices. How do they handle the related uncertainties about the weight of authoritarian manipulation? How the ensuing normative and strategic dilemmas? How do they reach voters? How do they exert institutional pressures? How do they manage to cooperate among themselves and how to provoke fissures within the regime?
- Democratic polarization: Processes of democratic subversion may, or may not, originate in fundamental political confrontations. Yet, invariably, they generate them. Invariably, they give rise to dynamics of polarization in which political adversaries come to perceive each other as existential threats to democratic coexistence. How do such polarizing conflicts get ignited? How can they be avoided or reverted? How do they shape the relations among citizens and between political adversaries? How do they feed the erosion of democracy?
- Democratic foundations: What does democracy require? The current crisis of democracy compels us to rethink its foundations. Our four strategic themes speak in manifold ways to the normative, cognitive, social, and institutional bases of liberal democracy. Blending political theory and comparative empirical research, we strive to reassess the complex conditions that make liberal democracy possible.
|Andreas Schedler||Lead Researcher / Senior Research Fellow|
|Matthijs Bogaards||CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Associate Professor|
|Alexander Bor||Post-doctoral Fellow / CEU Visiting Faculty Member|
|Andras Bozoki||CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor|
|Laszlo Bruszt||Co-director / CEU Professor|
|Gina Donoso||Research Affiliate / CEU Visiting Professor|
|William Edmonds||Fulbright Fellow|
|Zsolt Enyedi||Senior Research Fellow / CEU Professor|
|Dorit Geva||CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor|
|Nicolas Hernandez||Junior Research Affiliate|
|Flora Hevesi||Research Assistant|
|Erin Kristin Jenne||CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor|
|David Karas||OSUN Post-doctoral Fellow|
|Janos Kis||Senior Research Fellow / CEU University Professor|
|Eszter Kovats||Research Affiliate|
|Peter Kreko||Research Affiliate|
|Levente Littvay||Research Affiliate|
|Balint Madlovics||Junior Research Fellow|
|Balint Magyar||Senior Research Fellow|
|Jennifer McCoy||Research Affiliate|
|Carlos Melendez||OSUN Post-doctoral Fellow|
|Inna Melnykovska||CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Assistant Professor|
|Wolfgang Merkel||Senior Research Fellow|
|Vera Messing||Research Fellow|
|Balint Mikola||Post-doctoral Fellow|
|Filip Milacic||Research Affiliate|
|Edgar Sar||Junior Research Affiliate|
|Carsten Q. Schneider||CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor|
|Murat Somer||Research Affiliate|
|Andras Szalai||Research Affiliate|
|Lili Turza||Junior Research Affiliate|
|Franziska Wagner||Research Assistant|
|Edit Zgut-Przybylska||re:constitution Fellow|
Orban is creating "the illusion of real concessions," yet he is not giving up his overriding goal of monopolizing the state and the market, our re:constitution Fellow Edit Zgut-Przybylska said to Welt am Sonntag.
It is not a real alliance-building exercise, "but rather a PR show of strength, which is mainly meant to counteract Viktor Orban's total international isolation," our re:constitution Fellow Edit Zgut-Przybylska said to Szabad Europa (Radio Free Europe).
"It is part of the illiberal recipe book that these systems do not like representative democracy, freedom of thought, academic freedom, university freedom," our Co-Director Renata Uitz said to Szabad Europa (Radio Free Europe).
“The Balkans have a new political star,” our Research Affiliate Filip Milacic writes in his article in Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
“The basic concept that needs to be understood is the difference between corruption that destroys the system and corruption that creates the system,” our Junior Research Fellow Balint Madlovics said to 444.
Did you miss the kick-off event of our AUTHLIB project with Michael Ignatieff’s keynote speech or the ensuing panel discussion? Watch them now!
Our Senior Research Fellow Zsolt Enyedi joined Doomsday Watch host Arthur Snell in the podcast series The Bunker to unpack what lessons democracies should take from the Orban era.
In the 20th century, politicians’ charm was based on distance, while today, they are trying to construct an image of being “one of us,” our Research Affiliate Julia Sonnevend said as the guest in Friderikusz Podcast, a Hungarian show.
Zsolt Enyedi discusses party cooperation with Danica Fink-Hafner, professor and Head of the Political Science Research Program at University of Ljubljana, and expert on party politics, European integration, nation-building, interest-representation and democratization.