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News from the AUTHLIB Consortium

March 2024



Dear Colleagues and Friends,


Over the past three months, AUTHLIB – Neo-Authoritarianisms in Europe and the Liberal Democratic Response has begun the dissemination of its latest research findings while continuing its active collaboration across various partner organizations. Notably, the Central European University team, in partnership with the Transatlantic Foundation, kicked off the dissemination of findings from the “Illiberalism in Power” work package through a series of hybrid discussions in February. Concurrently, the Sciences Po team continued its work on modeling ideological configurations, employing manifesto data to explore the ideological alternatives to liberal democracy present in 21st-century Europe. SWPS University, the Oxford team, and Scuola Normale Superiore have also made significant strides in their respective work packages, delving into survey-based data collection, rhetorical analysis, and the analysis of dynamics of transnational illiberalism diffusion. As we gear up for forthcoming publications and presentations of our work in the next months, including a panel at the Council of European Studies Conference in Lyon in July, we invite you to delve deeper into our consortium’s latest endeavors.


We present below the highlights of the past three months. To dive deeper into our progress, please read our quarterly report here.


Find out more about us on AUTHLIB’s website. To make sure you don’t miss our upcoming events and publications, follow us on BlueskyX, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. Feel free to forward this newsletter to colleagues and friends who might be interested in our research and activities.

Recent Highlights



With AUTHLIB’s work package exploring the actions of illiberals in power concluding in December 2023, we started the year by discussing the key findings of the work led by the CEU Democracy Institute. In February, we organized a discussion about illiberal impact on educational and cultural policies presenting the findings of Péter Radó (Research Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute) and Bálint Mikola (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute) (see their working paper below) and about illiberal immigration and citizenship policies explored by Dimitry Kochenov (Professor, CEU; Senior Research Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute) and Elena Basheshka (Post-doctoral Research Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute). Finally, in March, Dorottya Szikra presented her findings on illiberals’ social policies in Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Poland.

All our public events are recorded and the videos are available on AUTHLIB’s YouTube channel. Subscribe and sign up for notifications to not miss out!


Illiberalism and Social Policy: A Four-Country Comparison

AUTHLIB Workshop

Social policy is the area affecting most the well-being and thriving of people, and it thus plays an important role in the campaigns and governance of all political parties. For illiberal actors economic and social policies are of particular importance because, as opposed to outright autocracies, illiberalism exists under democratic or quasi-democratic circumstances. The working paper by Dorottya Szikra (Research Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute) titled “Illiberalism and Social Policy: A four-country comparison”, looks at four countries that are members of the EU and experienced illiberal rule for a shorter or longer period in the past decades.

Stay tuned! The recording of the discussion and the working paper will be published shortly.

Read more

Immigration and Citizenship in Europe: Does ‘Illiberalism’ Matter?

AUTHLIB Workshop

Immigration is one of the most divisive issues in developed countries, being a substantive political matter in national elections. Rhetoric aside, it is immigration above other topics, that dominates debates – even if uniting the right and dividing the left.  While immigration attitudes have barely changed, the concern over immigration has become increasingly evident. At this workshop, Dimitry Kochenov (Professor, CEU; Senior Research Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute) and Elena Basheshka (Post-doctoral Research Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute) discuss what radical measures have been adopted across Europe on the pretext of safeguarding security.

The recording is available on AUTHLIB’s YouTube channel.

Read more

Illiberalism in Power: What Impact on Educational and Cultural Policies?

AUTHLIB Workshop

Illiberal governments have been widely associated with democratic backsliding, the erosion of the rule of law, and executive aggrandizement. However, their impact on the various domains of knowledge production has not received enough scholarly attention.

Discussing their AUTHLIB Working Paper titled “Illiberalism in Power: Educational and Cultural Policies”, Péter Radó and Bálint Mikola address this issue through the analysis of education and cultural policy changes in two crucial cases of illiberals in power: post-2010 Hungary, and Poland after 2015.

The recording is available on AUTHLIB’s YouTube channel.

Read more


The AUTHLIB consortium continues to run the AUTHLIB Working Papers series and the AUTHLIB Blog to disseminate the consortium’s research findings to academic and policy communities.

The AUTHLIB Working Papers present preliminary results from ongoing research prior to final publication. The series seeks to facilitate the exchange of ideas and to stimulate discussion about work in progress between the AUTHLIB core team and affiliates, the academic community working on the varieties of threats and challenges to liberal democracy in Europe as well as on possible avenues to counter them, and the interested public. It provides an opportunity for the AUTHLIB team and researchers affiliated with consortium members to disseminate and receive feedback on their work. It also showcases the complex focus of AUTHLIB’s inquiries to the academic and general public.

The AUTHLIB Blog is a platform of academic and policy debate publishing commentary, analysis, and opinion pieces around the topics of (neo-)authoritarianism, illiberalism, populism, challenges to liberal democracy, democratic erosion and backsliding, democratic security and resilience, and related political events and developments primarily but not exclusively on the European scene. It seeks to facilitate discussion between the scholarly and policy communities dealing with the above questions, in a language that is accessible also to the broader public.

Over the past months, articles published on the AUTHLIB Blog discussed how parties in Europe cluster according to the key characteristics of their ideology, what explains the rise of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, what impact illiberals have on education and cultural policies in Hungary and Poland, how female leadership influences the radical right party scene, and through the example of Hungary, what may challenge informational autocracies.

The AUTHLIB Blog welcomes submissions from the academic and policy community. Should you be interested in contributing, contact Zsuzsanna Végh, visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, with your short pitch at:

AUTHLIB Working Papers

Péter Radó & Bálint Mikola – Illiberalism in Power: Educational and Cultural Policies

Illiberal governments have been widely associated with democratic backsliding, the erosion of the rule of law, and executive aggrandizement. However, their impact on the various domains of knowledge production has not received enough scholarly attention. Through what policies do illiberal actors ensure the reproduction of their narratives? Do illiberal political leaders see education and culture as vehicles that serve ideological purposes or do they consider them as another arena where power, positions, and material resources are at stake?

In this AUTHLIB Working Paper, Péter Radó and Bálint Mikola address these questions through the analysis of educational and cultural policy changes in two crucial cases of illiberals in power: Hungary after 2010 and Poland after 2015. The paper distinguishes between overt and hidden policy agendas; that is, initiatives and aspirations that are driven by values and social or economic goals versus policies serving purposes that cannot be openly represented because they contradict widely accepted ethical norms or constitutional principles.


Read more



A Scandal in Hungary Shows the Limits of Informational Autocracy

Hungary is an informational autocracy, with the most controlled information environment in the European Union. Yet, the recent pedophile clemency scandal leading to the resignation of President Katalin Novák shows the limits of a political communication machinery that seemed hyper-efficient and almost omnipotent in keeping voters in information bubbles and echo chambers, writes Péter Krekó (Visiting Fellow at the Engaging Central Europe program of The German Marshall Fund of the United States).

Read more

Giorgia and the Others: Female Leadership on the Radical Right

Radical right parties have been long considered male-dominated but women are now reaching their highest echelons, as the case of Giorgia Meloni in Italy shows. This change, however, does not translate into a modernization of the social vision of these parties, whose policies remain conservative and traditionalist, find Manuela Caiani (Associate Professor, Scuola Normale Superiore) and Federico Stefanutto Rosa (political communication and public affairs consultant).

Read more

Do Illiberal Governments Make a Difference in Education and Culture?

Illiberal political actors around Europe have made education and culture top items on their agenda in order to induce lasting changes in political values, attitudes, and tastes. Still, few of them had several governmental terms to implement them. Péter Radó (Research Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute) and Bálint Mikola (Post-doctoral Research Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute) explore the implications of illiberal rule in Hungary and Poland on cultural and education policies.

Read more

Populist Anti-Establishment Success in the Netherlands

The Netherlands for a long time had the reputation of a politically stable and predictable liberal country. However, under the surface, one could sense a different story. The fragmented party system repeatedly produced coalition governments, held together by compromises and incapable of addressing persistent issues faced by society. Tomáš Cirhan (Post-doctoral Researcher, Charles University) explores the reasons behind the electoral success of the Party for Freedom in the November 2023 elections.

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Populists in Europe: A Political Group with Its Distinct Policy Preferences?

In the evolving landscape of European politics, the rise of populism challenges traditional ideological boundaries. Examining parties’ policy preferences reveals distinct clusters, cutting across geographical and traditional left-right divides. From the ‘Central and Eastern European populists’ rejecting European integration to the ‘Identity politics and intersectional left’ group emphasizing extreme positions, Elena Cossu (Research Fellow, SciencesPo Paris) explores how party clusters redefine the political spectrum in Europe.

Read more

The project “AUTHLIB – Neo-Authoritarianisms in Europe and the Liberal Democratic Response” is funded by the European Union and the UK Research and Innovation. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or UK Research and Innovation. Neither the European Union nor the UK Research and Innovation can be held responsible for them.

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