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Photo:Tattered EU flag,” by Derek Bennett licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED. The hue is modified from the original.

Svolik, Milan W., Elena Avramovska, Johanna Lutz, and Filip Milaèiæ. “In Europe, Democracy Erodes from the Right.” Journal of Democracy 34, no. 1 (2023): 5-20.


In order to diagnose Europe’s democratic vulnerabilities, we conducted experiments that probe Europeans’ ability to recognize and punish politicians who undermine democracy. Across seven countries, we systematically detect two reservoirs of tolerance for authoritarianism: the illiberal right and the disengaged. Citizens in the first group support parties on the extreme, populist, radical, or nationalist right. Citizens in the second group do not vote, but, in several countries, they are dormant supporters of the illiberal right and exhibit just as much lenience toward transgressions against democracy. The root cause of the illiberal right’s tolerance for authoritarianism appears to be not in how much it cares about its signature issues, like immigration or traditional values, but in how little it cares about democracy. Europe’s authoritarian potential, both overt and hidden, is located on its electorates’ far-right flanks.

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.