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Photo: “Prague – Vue du château depuis le Pont Charles et la Vltava“, by Bengt Nyman licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Hanley, Seán, and Milada Anna Vachudova. “Understanding the illiberal turn: democratic backsliding in the Czech Republic.” East European Politics 34, no. 3 (2018): 276-296.


Democratic backsliding in Central Europe has so far been most acute in Hungary and Poland, states once considered frontrunners in democratisation. In this paper, we explore to what extent developments in another key frontrunner, the Czech Republic, fit initial patterns of Hungarian/Polish backsliding. Our analysis centres on the populist anti-corruption ANO movement, led by the billionaire Andrej Babiš, which became the largest Czech party in October 2017 after winning parliamentary elections. We find that while ANO has more limited electoral support than illiberal governing parties in Poland and Hungary and lacks a powerful nationalist narrative, common tactics and forms of concentrating power can be identified, albeit with crucial differences of timing and sequencing.

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.