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Huber, Daniela, and Barbara Pisciotta. “From democracy to hybrid regime. Democratic backsliding and populism in Hungary and Tunisia.” Contemporary Politics (2022): 1-22.


Democratic backsliding has become a global reality which in the past decade has curiously occurred together with populism and the polarisation of societies. How do these phenomena interact? Through a comparative study of two iconic cases of democratisation and democratic backsliding from different world regions, Hungary and Tunisia, we find that polarisation – typically instrumentalized by populists along the socio-cultural axis – harms social trust, setting a context in which societies accept democratic backsliding. Based on a most-different-systems design, our findings confirm the causal link between populism and democratic backsliding and represent a starting point for further analysis focused on the effects of the socio-cultural dimension on institutional change.

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.