Democracy Bulletin, March 2023

News from the CEU Democracy Institute


News from the CEU Democracy Institute

The eighth issue of the Democracy Bulletin, the quarterly newsletter of the CEU Democracy Institute (DI), focuses on our most important achievements and publications in the previous months. If you don’t want to miss any of our news items, events, publications, podcasts or videos, then please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


DI Launches Working Paper Series

With the aim to promote the success and sustainability of democracies worldwide, we launched the CEU DI Working Paper Series. The initiative showcases research-in-progress on the challenges democracy faces across the globe today and looks forward to communicating research findings to policymakers and other stakeholders engaged in the global discourse on democracy. Oliver Garner is Managing Editor of the series.

New Semester of Invisible University for Ukraine Started

One year after the Russian invasion, the Invisible University for Ukraine (IUFU), an initiative launched by the Central European University (CEU) with the involvement of the DI in the spring of 2022, continues to grow. IUFU offers academic continuity for Ukrainian students whose studies have been affected by the war. After the success of the 2022 Spring Semester, 2022 Summer School, 2022 Fall Semester and 2023 Winter School, a new chapter begins: 2023 Spring Semester. The project has been characterized by offering an intensive learning experience on the role of Ukraine in the changing European and global contexts, placing relevant questions for Ukrainian students in a transnational comparative perspective. However, it is not intended to replace or duplicate the existing educational opportunities in Ukrainian universities, but to support them.

New Book by Zsolt Cziganyik

In Utopia Between East and West in Hungarian Literature, our Research Fellow Zsolt Cziganyik provides the first comprehensive study of Hungarian utopian literature in English. The volume broadens the scope of the traditionally Anglophone canon and seeks to understand Central Europe through the differences between Eastern and Western utopian thought. Learn more about the book here.

EU Commission Report Refers to DI Project

The Roma Civil Monitor initiative, a project implemented by a consortium led by the DI, and including the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO Network), Fundacion Secretariado Gitano (FSG), and European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), was an important source for the European Commission’s Assessment Report of the national Roma strategies. The document refers several times to our project and is accompanied by a Staff Working Document, which summarizes the findings of the project’s country assessment reports. Learn more here.

EC High Level Group with Dorottya Szikra Presented Its Report

The European Commission's High-Level Group on the Future of Social Protection in Europe, of which our Research Fellow Dorottya Szikra is a member, presented its latest report in Brussels on February 7. The experts reviewed different ways to strengthen social protection both at national and European level and proposed 21 recommendations to improve social protection systems and welfare states, providing useful insights to European and national policymakers.

Academics Facing Autocracy Program Launched

The OSUN Global Visiting Fellowship brings together a team that on its first meeting on February 23 set out to establish a framework to study the various cases of academics resisting authoritarian regimes’ attacks on education by creating alternative ways of higher education. By creating an opportunity for critical reflection and dialogue between university instructors and researchers with experience of alternative higher education from various local contexts, the program, hosted by the DI, enables the exploration of sustainable global strategies to resist authoritarian and autocratic attacks on education and critical thinking.

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Postdoctoral Fellowship

Applications are open for two 2-year Postdoctoral Research Fellow positions in our De- and Re-Democratization (DRD) Workgroup. Learn more here.

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Conference: Lost in Transition

On March 3-4 the Workgroup hosted the closing conference of the four-year-long research project Lost in Transition: Social Sciences, Scenarios of Transformation, and Cognitive Dissonances in East Central Europe after 1989, which placed the current anti-liberal and anti-democratic backlash in Eastern Europe into a comparative historical perspective.

Jenő Szűcs Lecture Series Launched

The Workgroup launched a public lecture series to bring together scholars of history and related fields in Budapest as well as online to exchange their results on the interplay between democracy and histor(iograph)y in a broad sense. The series’ title honors the legacy of historian Jenő Szűcs historian, an advocate of recognizing Central Europe as a historical region and a major critic of the misuses of national past in his native Hungary.


Flora Hevesi Joins the Workgroup

In January 2023, Flora Hevesi joined the Workgroup as a Research Assistant to help with the various research projects and coordinate the Rooftop Seminar series. Her research interests lie in the field of democratic, civic and environmental engagement, education and political philosophy.

Andreas Schedler on Basic Democratic Trust

To fill the conceptual void, in his working paper the Workgroup’s Lead Researcher Andreas Schedler introduces the notion of “basic democratic trust” and its opposite: fear of democratic enemies (“enemyopia”), maps the domains of political trust along two dimensions: and substance, and clarify its twin opposites: distrust “enemyopia”.


REAL DEAL Handbook on Citizen Engagement

The DI completed a major deliverable under the Horizon project, REAL DEAL, consisting of the REAL DEAL Handbook on Citizen Engagement in the European Green Deal, which presents general, practical guidance for citizens, civil society organizations, other stakeholders, implementing authorities, governments, and legal professionals engaged in consultation and participation related to the EGD. It also covers to the extent possible the legal and institutional frameworks for innovative forms of engagement based on consultative mechanisms such as citizen assemblies. Preparatory work on the next stages of the project, including a REAL DEAL Summit on citizen engagement and the preparation of a protocol on citizen engagement, has begun.


New Seminar Series

The Workgroup launched its bi-weekly seminar series with two very successful events. On February 13 Dorottya Szikra with co-authors Kerem Oktem and Adrienn Gyory talked about family policies in autocratic regimes, on February 27th Dorottya Redai discussed anti-LGBTQ politics in the Hungarian illiberal context.

New Blog Launched

On March 8 Senior Research Fellow Andrea Krizsan together with co-author Conny Roggeband (University of Amsterdam) launched a blog series on gender and democracy with ECPR’s blog, The Loop. In the series weekly entries will discuss conceptual and empirical aspects of democracy and its relation to gender equality.


New Project to Support Independent Journalism Launched

DI Fellow Kate Coyer participated in a kick-off meeting in Belgrade this February to launch Phase II of the Strengthening Quality Journalism in Western Balkans and Turkey project. Over the next three years the consortium of eight organizations, including the CEU Democracy Institute, and led by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, will continue to provide systemic support to improve the quality and professionalism of journalism in the region. The project is funded by the European Union.


On Threats to the Rule of Law in Poland

“Article 7(1) TEU empowers the EU to act preventively in a situation where there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the values laid down in Article 2 TEU,” our Senior Research Fellow Laurent Pech and Jakub Jaraczewski (Democracy Reporting International) argued in their CEU DI Working Paper, exclusively dedicated to the Article 7(1) TEU procedure in respect of Poland.

On Ukraine’s Accession to the EU

At a conference at the Supreme Court of Ukraine the Workgroup’s lead researcher Dimitry Kochenov argued based on his earlier article that EU Enlargement Law, when approached in a legal-historical perspective, is sufficiently flexible to accommodate Ukraine's highly unusual circumstances and its specificity to ensure swift integration as an essential part of its victory against the Russian aggression.


Backsliding Democracy

Zsuzsanna Szelenyi joined the Mark Leonard’s World in 30 Minutes podcast series of the European Council on Foreign Relations to discuss Hungary’s situation in the European Union.

Democracy First

In conversation with Ferenc Laczo, Shadi Hamid addresses democratic dilemmas that cannot be wished away; explains how he distinguishes between liberalism and democracy and why he proposes a democracy-first strategy.

Abortion Laws in CEE

Andrea Peto joined Agnieszka Wadolowska for an episode of The VoiCEE podcast series to discuss public support for abortion in Poland, and the so-called heartbeat decree in Hungary.

Building Enduring Democracies

Filip Milacic, interviewed by Lorena Drakula, discusses the effects unresolved issues of stateness can have on democratic consolidation, and how political actors can instrumentalize polarization to justify authoritarian measures.

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Our journal, the Review of Democracy (RevDem) is an open platform to discuss, analyze, reflect on, and develop possible solutions to the challenges to democracy across the globe today. Read its most important publications from recent weeks:

Ukraine's Road to EU Accession

Danuta Hubner, Professor and Member of the European Parliament since 2009 spoke with Kasia Krzyzanowska about the specificities of the EU accession path for Ukraine, the difficulties other countries had to overcome, and shared her visions of the future EU. Read it here.

Conscious European, Critic of Hubris

In Homelands, Oxford Professor Timothy Garton Ash gives a personal account and interpretation of contemporary Europe. According to this review by Ferenc Laczo the question "why has Europe’s rise and triumph been followed by its recent faltering?" is crucial for the volume but also a personal matter for the author. Read it here.

Adam Michnik on the War in Ukraine

With the perspective that time provides, Adam Michnik, founder and editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, wrote about what he considers "the most important war of our time”, the one that “poses a new challenge for all of us who want to live in a democratic world". Read it here. (The op-ed was first published in Polish by Gazeta Wyborcza).

MEET THE DILearn more about our colleagues! Click on the image below to watch their videos, in which they introduce themselves, and talk about their work. Stay tuned, a new video is coming every Friday.

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