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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

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

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.


Zsolt Enyedi on What Liberals Should Learn From Populists

“Liberals need to remind people of the fundamental compatibility between liberalism and patriotism,” Zsolt Enyedi, Lead Researcher of our De-/Re-Democratization workgroup writes in his op-ed published by Euronews.

Wolfgang Merkel: Candidates, Chancellors and Coalitions: Who Won the Elections?

“It was primarily a victory for Olaf Scholz and not for the SPD as a party,” our Senior Research Fellow, Wolfgang Merkel writes in his article published on The Progressive Post.

Erin Jenne, Peter Visnovitz: Populist Argumentation in Foreign Policy: The Case of Hungary Under Viktor Orbán, 2010–2020

“In foreign policy populism serves as a political argument to enable status elevation on the international stage,” our Research Affiliate Erin K. Jenne and Peter Visnovitz argue in their article published as part of a special issue on populism in foreign policy in Comparative European Politics.

CEU Democracy Institute Event Will Analyze German Elections

Our event on September 20 will discuss whether the decline of mainstream parties in Germany will continue, how polarized the party landscape is, what the elections mean to Europe, and many other topics.

Wolfgang Merkel and Anna Luhrmann on the Resilience of Democracies

“Why are some democracies more resilient than others to the current trend of autocratization?”, our Senior Research Fellow Wolfgang Merkel and his co-author Anna Luhrmann ask in their article published in Democratization.


Populism and Conspiracy Theories

Stijn van Kessel talks to Levente Littvay about his work examining the relationship between populism and conspiracy theories.

German Elections – How Critical Will They Be?

On 20th September, the CEU Democracy Institute hosted a roundtable discussion on the upcoming German elections with Sheri Berman, Carsten Q. Schneider, Thomas Poguntke and Brigid Laffan, chaired by Wolfgang Merkel.

The Parliamentary Elites in Latin America (PELA) Project

Saskia Ruth-Lovell and Steven Van Hauwaert discuss elite surveys and how they can be utilized to measure populism.

The PopuList

Matthijs Rooduijn introduces and discusses his co-authored project, which classifies (amongst others) radical and populist parties on the left and the right. He shows us around the website and explain how we can use the data.

The Populism and Political Parties Expert Survey

Steven Van Hauwaert talks to Maurits Meijers about his collaborative project with Andrej Zaslove, where they map and measure parties' populism.