Skip to main content


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

Andreas Schedler

Lead Researcher / Senior Research Fellow

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

Jennifer McCoy Research Affiliate

Inna Melnykovska  

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Assistant Professor

Wolfgang Merkel

Senior Research Fellow

Filip Milacic Research Affiliate
Edgar Sar Research Affiliate

Carsten Schneider

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Julia Sonnevend Research Affiliate

Andras Szalai

Research Fellow


Research Projects

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

Researcher: Andras Szalai

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.


Jennifer McCoy on How 21st Century Autocrats Can Be Removed From Power

“Is it possible to interrupt the march of autocracy around the globe?” – our Research Affiliate Jennifer McCoy and her co-author Murat Somer write on

Jennifer McCoy: Why Hungary Re-elected a Pro-Putin Regime—and What Factors May Shift That Support

“Orban faced his most serious challenge from a broad-spectrum opposition coalition,” still, he “won more popular votes than ever before,” our Research Affiliate Jennifer McCoy writes in her post for the Scholars Strategy Network.

Balint Magyar on the Parallels Between Hungary and Russia

“Hungary is a mafia state - the only one in the EU, by the way, and very similar to Russia. The government acts like a centralized and hierarchical criminal organization,” our Senior Research Fellow Balint Magyar said in an interview with Die Zeit.

Zsolt Enyedi on Whether the EU Could Kick a Member State Out

“I don’t think Orban will ever voluntarily leave the EU primarily because of financial reasons,” our Research Affiliate Zsolt Enyedi said to Euronews. However, he thinks “he can create a situation when the EU will have no choice but to expel Hungary.”

Jennifer McCoy on the Results of the Hungarian Elections

"This election was almost unwinnable for any opponent, given the structural advantages that Fidesz had already created for itself," our Research Affiliate Jennifer McCoy said to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.


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.

Top Frequently Asked Questions About Populism

Is populism a threat to democracy? If populism is bad, how to counter it? In this new episode of the DEMOS podcast, three experts, including our Research Affiliate Levente Littvay answer Google’s top 5 frequently asked questions about populism.

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.

The New Politics of Resentment

A conversation with Hans-Georg Betz and Levente Littvay about Hans-Georg's foundational article "The New Politics of Resentment: Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe.”

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.