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Photo: “Viktor Orbán adressing the House of Commons – 2015.09.21 (1)“, by Elekes Andor, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Nyyssönen, Heino, and Jussi Metsälä. “Liberal Democracy and its Current Illiberal Critique: The Emperor’s New Clothes?.” Europe-Asia Studies (2020): 1-18.


This article focuses on the challenge of illiberalism to democracy, even though the nature of this contestation is ambiguous. The illiberal critique of liberal democracy is contextualised using conceptual history and two major ‘political credit ratings’, namely the Democracy Index and the Freedom in the World Report. Empirically we concentrate on Hungarian politics, which we consider to be an example of soft authoritarianism, drawing on two key speeches by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán: his launch of the idea of the ‘illiberal state’ in 2014 and his emphasis on ‘Christian democracy’ after the 2018 election campaign.

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.