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Semi-authoritarian regimes are manipulating elections from Ankara to Yangon, yet they maintain a genuine base of support. To understand the dynamics of the vitality of such regimes, the Institute studies their propaganda, social and media policies, electoral strategies, informal power relations, and actors of influence, producing scholarship relevant for both academics and practitioners. 


Zsolt Enyedi

Lead Researcher / CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Daniel Bochsler CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Associate Professor

Matthijs Bogaards

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Associate Professor

András Bozóki

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Laszlo Bruszt

Co-director / CEU Professor

Dorit Geva

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Erin Kristin Jenne

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

David Karas

Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Janos Kis

Senior Research Fellow / CEU University Professor

Levente Littvay

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Bálint Madlovics

Junior Research Fellow

Bálint Magyar

Senior Research Fellow

Inna Melnykovska  

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Assistant Professor

Wolfgang Merkel

Senior Research Fellow

Carsten Schneider

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Julia Sonnevend Research Affiliate

Andras Szalai

Research Fellow


Research Projects

Researcher: Andras Szalai

BordEUr: New European Borderlands (Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Networks) 

BordEUr is a collaborative research project of nine universities that documents and assesses the proliferation of new borders in the aftermath of the EU’s recent crises, with a special emphasis on the so-called migration crisis. The project analyzes the symbolic role of borders in ontological narratives (those of both the EU and its member states), as well as the bordering policies that these narratives enable. The Democracy Institute's contribution highlights the role borders play in rightwing populists’ securitizing discourses, and how these discourses can advance de-democratization. 

The Comparative Populism Project

Researchers: Erin Kristin Jenne, Levente Littvay

The Comparative Populism Project, funded by a CEU Intellectual Themes Initiative (ITI) grant, consists of a database of holistically graded speeches by chief executives of more than 30 countries in Europe and North America from the early 2000s to present, covering 128 leader terms. The database contains manually coded speeches for the presence of populist, nationalist, and social conservative discourses. Going forward, we intend to offer public access to what may be the largest speech databases in the world. 

Team Populism

Researchers: Erin Kristin Jenne, Levente Littvay

Through our membership in the inter-university Team Populism, we bring together the methodological skills and perspectives of a global network of populism scholars to arrive at a multi-faceted understanding of why populism manifests more strongly in some countries or leader terms than others, why some chief executives employ social conservativism or more nationalist/nativist than others, and investigate the influence of these discourses on foreign policy, public administration and party systems.  

Towards a Set of Indicies for Patronalism

Researchers: Balint Magyar, Balint Madlovics

The project builds on the book The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes: A Conceptual Framework (Budapest-New York: CEU Press, 2020) published by Balint Magyar and Balint Madlovics. The book introduces a new descriptive language for post-communist regimes, identifiying them as patronal regimes which are characterized by a dominance of informal structures. However, traditional data collection records formal relations, where de jure and de facto structures of ownership and disposition coincide. The aim of our project is to construct an index, or rather a set of various indices for countries where that is not the case, and therefore to map out the extent of informal patronal phenomena in post-communist economies. The indices would also make data collection in, and subsequent analysis and comparison of, different countries in a uniform method possible.


Gabor Simonovits, Jennifer McCoy, Levente Littvay: Democratic Hypocrisy and Out-group Threat: Explaining Citizen Support for Democratic Erosion

“Individual support for norm-eroding policies increases when their own party is in power,” our Research Affiliate Levente Littvay, Gabor Simonovits (CEU Department of Political Science) and Jennifer McCoy (Georgia State University) write in their article to be published in The Journal of Politics.

Andras Bozoki on the Upcoming Hungarian Elections

There are technical problems within the joint opposition, but these will be solved, our Research Affiliate Andras Bozoki said to the Italian magazine Reset.

Balint Magyar on the Orban Regime

The Orban regime is not driven by ideologies, only applies them, our Senior Research Fellow Balint Magyar said in an interview with Partizan.

New Project: Global Corruption Observatory

The DI joined forces with the CEU Department of Public Policy, University of Los Andes, BRAC University and SciencesPo to create a Global Corruption Observatory, supported by the Open Society University Network.

Andras Bozoki: Selective Repression and Democratic Opposition in Post-Totalitarian Hungary

In his chapter in One Hundred Years of Communist Experiments, our Research Affiliate Andras Bozoki investigates how censorship worked in Hungary in the post-totalitarian period of communist rule.


Interest Representation in Illiberal Times

Did you miss the lecture by Rafael Labanino on how democratic backsliding affects interest representation and intermediation? Watch it now.

Conservative Radicalism in Europe and Transformations in Higher Education

Did you miss the lecture by Dorit Geva on how conservatism and far-right radicalism are merging in the space of intellectual production in Europe? Watch it now.

Right-Wing Populism and Historical Legacy

Steven Van Hauwaert interviews Luca Manucci about his original 2019 WEP article "National past and populism" (w/ Daniele Caramani) and his subsequent book "Populism and collective memory".

Populism and the Media

In this video, Stijn van Kessel talks to Léonie de Jonge about her 2019 article in The International Journal of Press/Politics: "The populist radical right and the media in the Benelux: friend or foe?".

Zsolt Enyedi on Party System Closure

Zsolt Enyedi, Lead Researcher of our De-/Re-Democratization Workgroup talks about his book co-authored with Fernando Casal Bertoa (University of Nottingham).