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Székely-Doby, András. “Rent creation, clientelism and the emergence of semi-democracies: the case of Hungary.” East European Politics (2020): 1-21.


The paper offers a political-economic explanation of democratic backsliding based on rents and clientelism. Using a simple model, it is shown that incumbents in a dominant position may sacrifice short-term vote maximisation for long-term strategic advantages stemming from the stabilisation of their own supporting base. Weak democratic institutions may also allow them to bend the rules, leading ultimately to a new system: semi-democracy. The transformation of Hungary to a semi-democracy after 2010 fits very well to the results of the model, proving also that the consolidation of new democracies is a much longer project than it had been assumed before.

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.