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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

Pirro, Andrea L. P., and Ben Stanley. “Forging, Bending, and Breaking: Enacting the ‘Illiberal Playbook’ in Hungary and Poland.” Perspectives on Politics, 2021, 1–16.


In recent years, Central and Eastern Europe have furnished several examples of illiberalism in power. The most prominent and consequential cases are Fidesz, which has ruled in Hungary since 2010, and Law and Justice (PiS), which has ruled in Poland since 2015. In both cases, illiberal governments have embarked upon an extensive project of political reform aimed at dismantling the liberal-democratic order. We examine the nature, scope, and consequences of these processes of autocratisation. We first argue that illiberal changes are ideologically founded and identify how both populism and nativism figure in the policymaking of illiberals in power. We then show how these practices emerge from a common “illiberal playbook”—a paradigm of policy change comprising forms of forgingbending, and breaking—and elaborate on the notion that illiberal governments are using legalism to kill liberalism. The fine-grained approach that we employ allows us to distinguish between different rationales and gradations of illiberal policymaking, and assess their implications for the rule of law, executive power, and civil rights and freedoms

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.