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Ukranian army: Anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine (War Ukraine) by Ministry of Defense of Ukraine CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED. Hue modified.

Adam Holesch & Piotr Zagórski (2023) Toxic friend? The impact of the Russian invasion on democratic backsliding and PRR cooperation in Europe, West European Politics, 46:6, 1178-1204


Following the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the ‘democratic backslider’ parties in Hungary (Fidesz) and Poland (Law and Justice) took differing stances on Russia, bringing their positions on the Rule of Law (RoL) conflict and within the broader alliance of Populist Radical Right (PRR) parties into question. Building on and advancing the theoretical framework of democratic backsliding and PRR party cooperation, this article assesses the impact of exogenous shocks triggered by external authoritarian actors on these types of collaborations. A detailed examination of the voting patterns of Fidesz, Law and Justice and other PRR parties in the European Parliament (EP) is undertaken, and their stances towards Russia and the RoL conflict before and after the invasion are weighed. The findings show that the invasion did not influence the dynamics of democratic backsliding. Despite the rhetoric, it actually brought Fidesz and Law and Justice closer together. While the attack led to a convergence of assertiveness towards Russia among the PRR parties, the Putin regime remains a divisive issue within the PRR family. The different positions towards Russia did not affect the support of PRRs for the backsliders.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.