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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. 


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.


Balint Magyar and Balint Madlovics on Hungary’s Manipulated Elections

“Hungary's authoritarian, Russia-aligned prime minister, Viktor Orban, has now secured a fourth consecutive term and parliamentary supermajority in an election that was neither free nor fair,” our researchers Bálint Magyar and Bálint Madlovics write in their op-ed on Project Syndicate.

Andras Bozoki on the Results of the Hungarian Elections

“After the Covid-19 pandemic, Orban will face a real enemy (after so many imaginary enemies): The shadow of economic crisis,” our Research Affiliate Andras Bozoki said to Time.

Andras Bozoki on the Career of Viktor Orban

Losing the elections in 2002 and 2006 were formative for Viktor Orban, “he decided to seek revenge,” our Research Affiliate Andras Bozoki said in an interview with Mother Jones.

Andras Bozoki on the Hungarian Elections and the Friendship of Orban and Putin

“Everyone feels that Orban was Vladimir Putin's closest friend until the last moment,” our Research Affiliate Andras Bozoki said to Cesky Rozhlas Plus, a radio station of the Czech public broadcaster.

DI Event Covered by Hungarian Media

Polarizing public opinion along new, more favorable issues, or finding common ground can help the Hungarian opposition, writes in a summary of our discussion co-organized with the CEU Political Science Department.


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."