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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

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.

Left Wing Populism in the European Periphery

Yannis Stavrakakis talks to Levente Littvay about his article (with Giorgos Katsambekis) "Left Wing Populism in the European Periphery," and much more.

Erin K. Jenne: Populism, Nationalism and Revisionist Foreign Policy

“Nationalism has greater destructive effects for the international system when combined with populism, demonstrating the importance of distinguishing nationalism and populism conceptually in order to isolate their separate and combined effects on foreign policy,” our Research Affiliate Erin Kristin Jenne argues in her article published in International Affairs.

Social Democracy and Populism

Sarah de Lange (University of Amsterdam) talks to Steven M. Van Hauwaert about the relationship between social democracy and populism.

Zsolt Enyedi on the Rule of Law in Poland and Hungary

Speaking at the webinar ‘Is There Still “Rule of Law” in Poland and Hungary?’, organized by European Moments, Zsolt Enyedi, Lead Researcher of our De-/Re-Democratization Working Group discussed the alarming process of monopolization of Hungary’s judiciary by the governing party.

Revisiting the Populist Challenge

Conversation with Hanspeter Kriesi about his forward pointing review article "Revisiting the Populist Challenge" in the Czech Journal of Political Science.

Populism and Democratic Innovations

Kristof Jacobs (Radboud) talks to Steven M. Van Hauwaert about relationship between democratic innovations and populism, both from a supply and demand-side perspective.

Wolfgang Merkel on the Recoding of Political Conflicts

“To what extent do science and morals support or, on the contrary, limit democracy when it comes to the latter’s principles, procedures, and policy outcomes,” our Senior Research Fellow Wolfgang Merkel asks in his article published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Populism and Polarization

Lisa Zanotti (Diego Portales) talks to Steven M. Van Hauwaert about how polarization and populism relate to each other. They pay particular attention to the role of opposition forces and distinguish between affective and ideological polarization.

Far-right Demonstrations — They Are Not Going Anywhere

Michael Zeller, in a conversation with Kasia Krzyżanowska, talks about far-right mobilization campaigns and the processes of their de-mobilization. 

Job Opening: Lead Researcher for the De- and Re-Democratization Workgroup

The chosen candidate will be appointed as a Research Fellow or Senior Research Fellow at the DI in Budapest and visiting professor at the Political Sciences Department of CEU.