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Photo: “European Parliament Strasbourg Hemicycle – Diliff“, by Diliff, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Hue modified from the original.

Pintsch, Anne, Dennis Hammerschmidt, and Cosima Meyer. “Introduction: the decline of democracy and rise of populism in Europe and their effect on democracy promotion.” Cambridge Review of International Affairs (2022): 1-19.


International democracy promotion has been facing various challenges for a while. Among those are the decline of democracy and the rise of populism in donor countries. To date, however, there is little knowledge about their impact on democracy promotion. This article introduces a Special Issue that explores these challenges. After a general overview of the topic and consideration of the thematic focus of most contributions to the Special Issue, the introductory article elaborates in more detail on the relationship between populism and democracy promotion. Based on reviews of the debates about populism and democracy on the one hand and populism and foreign policy on the other hand, the article outlines three pathways through which populists may influence democracy promotion: (1) individual states, (2) international organizations and (3) civil society. In addition, the article summarizes the main findings of the contributions to the Special Issue and draws some general conclusions and perspectives for further research.

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.