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Beyond Populism

The CEU Campus
Friday, March 22, 2019, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

abstract | What are the characteristics of populism? Is it an ideology, discourse, syndrome or something else? In my presentation I will argue that populism is one of the most flexible ideologies. 

As for contemporary Hungary, the problem is not populism, which can co-exist with democracy and non-democracy, but the conscious destruction of checks and balances, the rule of law, i. e. liberal democracy. The Hungarian political regime can only be partly understood from the writings of Canovan, Müller, Mudde, Brubaker, and other theorists of populism. The focus on the regime type and its context might explain the paradoxical situation of Hungary. A member state of European liberal democracies that is governed by a leader that opposes the values of the EU. However, it is not just the classic elitism vs populism divide, because the politics of the government includes elements of nationalist elitism as well. Among the several dimensions of approaching the character of regime, I can point out its selective, propagandistic, discriminative, patchwork-type of authoritarianism.  Beyond this, leadership style matters. This can be characterized by three concepts: unscrupulousness, hypocrisy and cynicism. 

 bio | András Bozóki is Professor of Political Science at the Central European University. His main fields of research include democratization, political regimes, ideologies, Central European politics, elites and the role of intellectuals. He has been the chairman of the Political Science Committee at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He also served as president of the Hungarian Political Science Association