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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.

Publications by research group members (2022-23)


Andreas Schedler Lead Researcher / Senior Research Fellow
Natalya Antonova Intern
Ryan Bince Junior Research Affiliate
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 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
Gennadii Iakovlev Research Affiliate
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 Post-doctoral Fellow
Inna Melnykovska CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Assistant Professor
Wolfgang Merkel Research Affiliate
Vera Messing Research Fellow
Balint Mikola Post-doctoral Fellow
Filip Milacic Research Affiliate
Alvaro Morcillo Research Affiliate
Anand Murugesan CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Associate Professor
Edgar Sar Junior Research Affiliate
Dean Schafer Post-doctoral Fellow
Carsten Q. Schneider CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor
Murat Somer Research Affiliate
Andras Szalai Research Affiliate
Lili Turza Junior Research Affiliate
Giorgos Venizelos Post-doctoral Fellow
Franziska Wagner Research Assistant


David Karas, Pinar E. Donmez: Crises of Authoritarian Financialization: Monetary Policy in Hungary and Türkiye in the Polycrisis

In their chapter in Central Banking in a Post-Pandemic World our Post-doctoral Fellow David Karas and Pinar E. Donmez explain “the consolidation of inflationary and disinflationary monetary policies with differences in debt profiles, social blocs, and external financing conditions.”

Gabor Simonovits, Alexander Bor: Stability and Change in the Opinion–Policy Relationship: Evidence From Minimum Wage Laws

In their article in Research & Politics, Gabor Simonovits and our Post-Doctoral Fellow Alexander Bor replicate and extend a recent study to assess how policy bias evolves in time.

Laszlo Bruszt on the DI and Hungary

“Democracies have taken a long time to deteriorate. They have to be rebuilt,” our Co-director Laszlo Bruszt said in an interview with Klubradio.

Edit Zgut-Przybylska on the Polish Privatization Referendum

“The overarching goal of the Polish referendum is to exploit anti-German sentiments and identity-based anxieties centered around migration,” our re:constitution Fellow Edit Zgut-Przybylska said to AP.

Andreas Schedler: Rethinking Political Polarization

When played among ‘democratic enemies,’ democracy stops being ‘the only game in town,’” Andreas Schedler, lead researcher of our De- and Re-Democratization Workgroup writes in his article in Political Science Quarterly.


The Nationalism-Populism-Social Conservatism Database of Presidents and Prime Ministers

Did you miss the presentation of our Research Affiliate Erin Jenne, who introduced the Nationalism-Populism-Social Conservatism database of chief executives? Watch it now!

New Podcast: Zsolt Enyedi on the Hungarian Election

Our Research Affiliate Zsolt Enyedi was interviewed by Cas Mudde for his Radikaal Podcast series.

Overcoming Pernicious Polarization and Protecting Democracy

Did you miss this lecture on polarization and protecting democracy by our Research Affiliate Jennifer McCoy? Watch it now!

Stateness and Democratic Consolidation: Lessons from Former Yugoslavia

Did you miss this lecture by Filip Milacic, Senior Researcher for Democracy and Society at the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Vienna? Watch it now!

Populism, Political Conflict and Grass Roots Organization in Latin America

Ken Roberts talks to Levente Littvay about "Populism, Political Conflict and Grass Roots Organization in Latin America."