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The autumn conference season started strongly for the AUTHLIB consortium in early September with our project represented at the General Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research with two panels.

We kicked off the first day of the conference with a panel on the varieties of illiberalism, chaired by Zsolt Enyedi (Central European University—CEU), the leader of the AUTHLIB consortium, which explored how illiberalism materializes in communication, policy, and other elements of the political sphere. Marta Vukovic (University of Vienna) explored what citizens understand by the term “democracy” in Europe. Petra Guasti (Charles University) discussed the dynamics of mobilization for and against liberal democracy in the countries of Central Europe. In a co-authored piece, Jan Rovny (Sciences Po) and Filip Kostelka (European University Institute) took a close look at how voters select candidates in difficult democracies where democracy is at stake.

On the last day of the conference, our researchers explored how populist right-wing actors construct an illiberal Europe in a panel chaired by Bálint Mikola (CEU). Franziska Wagner presented a joint paper with Zsolt Enyedi (both CEU) in which they analyzed how Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the president of Poland’s Law and Justice party, Jarosław Kaczynski, appeal to positive sentiments in their speeches about the future, arguing that authoritarian politics is not only the “politics of fear”. Liliia Sablina introduced the preliminary results of a paper written with Bálint Mikola and Franziska Wagner (all CEU) on how the Freedom Party of Austria, Alternative for Germany, and Fidesz use Russian narratives or references to Russia since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022 as a justification for their anti-EU stances and for bolstering populist legitimization. Finally, Karlo Kralj dived into the development of transnational organizations, identities, and strategies of actions among extreme-right actors in Europe, presenting his joint research with Manuela Caiani (both Scuola Normale Superiore).

The conference offered our researchers the opportunity to showcase the work they have been doing since the start of the project but also brought together the consortium members for an internal exchange on September 4 and 5. Our closed workshop focused on discussing in detail the developments in our ongoing work packages and on exchanging ideas about the communication of the project in the coming months.

Finally, we also met colleagues from our sister project, RED-SPINEL (Respond to Emerging Dissensus: SuPranational Instruments and Norms of European democracy), and recorded a conversation between the two consortium leads, Ramona Coman (Université libre de Bruxelles) and Zsolt Enyedi (CEU), about the main aims of our projects, the theoretical and empirical innovation they bring to the table, and their practical relevance, especially considering the approaching European Parliament elections.

Stay tuned for the podcast to drop!

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