Challengers of liberal democracy: Anti-democratic movements and populism

Are anti-democratic parties a new phenomenon? What is populism exactly? Is there a global crisis of liberal democracy, and if yes, what caused the populist backlash? Where does liberal democracy end and illiberalism begin? Our section aims to understand and analyze the recent, worldwide upsurge of populist movements.


Section topics:

  1. Introduction to political regime types

During the first session we will look at the broad picture of different types of political systems. The first session’s major goal is to distinguish democracies from non-democratic regimes and to agree to a working definition of populism, as it is highly contested in the current state of the art literature. The session will take place as a seminar.

  1. The crisis of liberalism?

The second session examines the concept of political liberalism from a political philosophy angle. In order to understand the current upsurge of illiberalism, first we need to look at the concept of liberalism itself. The session will consist of a seminar (and a debate?) about what may have caused the crisis of liberalism.

  1. The demand-side of populism

The third session will change the unit of analysis and instead of looking at political actors providing the supply-side of populism, it will focus on the electorate. Who are the populist voters and why do they support these parties?

  1. Analyzing the demand-side with the toolkit of econometrics

In the last sessions, we will use the methodology of econometrics to put the theories of the third session into practice. The goal is to indentify significant variables that may have pushed the American voters towards supporting Donald Trump in the 2016 elections.


Section teachers:

Andras Bozóki 

Central European University
Hungarian Academy of Sciences


Steven M. Van Hauwaert 

CIDE (Mexico)
KU Leuven
Science Po Paris

Zoltan Miklosi

Central European University
Rajk László College for Advanced Studies


Balazs Murakozy

Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Rajk László College for Advanced Studies


Section organizers:

Zsófia Bajnay

Central European University
+36 30 435 5919


András Kárpáti 

Central European University
+36 30 849 5761


Richárd Nagy

Corvinus University of Budapest
+36 70 510 9009

In case of any questions related to the section please contact the section organizers.

Requirements & Application:

We are looking forward to the application of students of social sciences (both BA and MA-level).

You shall send a motivation letter, a short (1000 words) blogpost related to the topic of populism and your CV to apply to the section. Applications will be evaluated according to these requirements.