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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.

Researchers

Andreas Schedler Lead Researcher / Senior Research Fellow
Daniel Bochsler CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Associate Professor
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
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
Levente Littvay CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor
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
Zoltan Miklosi CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Associate Professor
Balint Mikola Post-doctoral Fellow
Filip Milacic Research Affiliate
Edgar Sar Junior Research Affiliate
Carsten Q. Schneider CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor
Andras Szalai Research Affiliate
Lili Turza Junior Research Affiliate
Franziska Wagner Research Assistant
Edit Zgut-Przybylska re:constitution Fellow

News

Andras Bozoki on the Hungarian Regime

It’s a big problem if the opposition is in the power’s grip, and it is naive to hope that highly qualified intelligentsia can “conquer” the inhabitants of small villages, our Research Affiliate Andras Bozoki said in an interview with Nepszava.

Matthijs Bogaards, Andrea Peto: Gender and Illiberalism in Post-Communist Europe

Often, opposition to gender equality and anti‐gender campaigns take place in countries that are witnessing a decline in democratic quality, our Research Affiliates Matthijs Bogaards and Andrea Peto write in the special issue of Politics and Governance, edited by them.

Andreas Schedler: Making Sense of Electoral Violence: The Narrative Frame of Organized Crime in Mexico

Andreas Schedler, lead researcher of our De- and Re-Democratization Workgroup, provides some insight about organized electoral violence in Mexico in his most recent piece for the Journal of Latin American Studies.

Janos Kis: How Is Critical Economic Theory Possible? – Preface

The book’s “concerns respond to the parallel upsurge and defeat of the New Left in the West and the Prague Spring in Eastern Europe, and the ideological tensions between those parallel movements,” our Senior Research Fellow Janos Kis writes in the new Preface of How Is Critical Economic Theory Possible?

Job Opening: Post-doctoral Fellow

We invite applications for a full-time Post-doctoral Fellow position working on the Horizon Europe research project AUTHLIB, led by Zsolt Enyedi.

Audiovisuals

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."

Populism, Persistent Republicanism and Declinism

Bram Spruyt talks to Levente Littvay about one of Levi's favorite populism papers. Bram wrote this paper with Mark Elchardus in which they put a uniquely political psychological twist on populist attitude research.

Hungary Two Months Before the Elections – Can the Opposition Win?

One of the most influential Hungarian political scientists, Zsolt Enyedi, discusses with Daniel Rona, Director of the 21 Research Center, the key questions related to the cooperation between the opposition parties before the April elections.