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In recent times, populist leaders and parties have gained increasing prominence on the international scene, from President Donald Trump in the United States to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party or Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her Fratelli d’Italia. Beyond the domestic scene, their influence on their countries’ foreign relations is also growing. Although scholars have traditionally focused on the effects of populism on domestic politics and policy, due to these developments, newer academic inquiry is increasingly interested in the foreign policy implications of populist leadership.

At an online workshop organized on April 29, 2024, Erin K. Jenne and Mehmet Yavuz discussed their working paper titled “Populist Leaders and Foreign Policy Rhetoric: A Comparative Study of Hungary and Austria” tackling these issues.

Their paper examines the national security strategy documents of Austria and Hungary, as well as of parliamentary debates and public speeches of populist actors, to ascertain whether there has been an increase in sovereigntist foreign policy rhetoric in these countries. Through a mixed methods analysis, the research assessed whether there are similarities in Austria and Hungary in foreign policy communication on topics such as immigration, the EU, and Russia. Beyond exploring changes in the foreign policy rhetoric of populists, the discussion also touched on the international policy implications of such actors assuming power in Europe and beyond.


📒 Paper presented by:

Erin K. Jenne (Professor, Department of International Relations, Central European University)

Mehmet Yavuz (Doctoral Researcher, Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations, Central European University)

🗣️ Discussant: Dean Gibson Schafer (Post-doctoral Fellow, CEU Democracy Institute)

🗣️ Chair: Dániel Hegedűs (Senior Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States)

The AUTHLIB consortium does not take collective positions. Views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They 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.


Photo credit: Ian Timberlake via Shutterstock

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