Democracy Bulletin, March 2024

News from the CEU Democracy Institute


News from the CEU Democracy Institute

In the 12th edition of the Democracy Bulletin, your quarterly newsletter from the CEU Democracy Institute (DI), we are spotlighting our standout accomplishments and top-notch publications from the past 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 €1.5 million ERC Grant Project

We are pleased to announce the launch of the ERC Starting Grant BENASTA. This project, titled " Becoming National Against The State: Popular Discontent And Adherence To Minority Nationalisms In Late Nineteenth-century Eastern Europe," will span five years. Under the leadership of our Research Fellow Ágoston Berecz, the project will investigate non-elite adherence to minority nationalisms in rural Eastern Europe from the 1870s to the First World War. Comparing six case studies, it will try to demonstrate that the states structures in which these populations lived inadvertently conspired with national movements to constitute minorities disaffected with them.

Zsuzsanna Szelényi's Book Listed as One of the Best Books of 2023 by Foreign Affairs

Tainted Democracy, the book by Zsuzsanna Szelenyi, Program Director of the CEU Democracy Institute Leadership Academy, was named one of the best books of 2023 in the Western Europe category by U.S. foreign policy magazine Foreign Affairs. "Szelenyi, herself a former Hungarian politician, provides a balanced and detailed account of Hungary’s slide from liberal democracy toward right-wing populist nationalism under Prime Minister Viktor Orban," Foreign Affairs writes.

Laura Rahm and Peter Kreko in the New York Times

Our Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow, Laura Rahm was quoted by The New York Times. She stressed that the recent vote by the French Senate to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution must be understood within a broader context, and pointed to emergency measures that the French government introduced after the pandemic hit, offering abortion via telemedicine. “A system always shines or cracks when it’s put under pressure,” she argued.

Our Research Affiliate Peter Kreko also gave a comment to The New York Times. He talked about Hungary's reluctance to ratify Sweden's NATO membership. “If you are the troublemaker you have to be taken seriously. This is a typical feature of authoritarianism: you have to pay theatrical respect to the strongman,” he argued.

Miroslaw Wroblewski Appointed President of the Personal Data Protection Office in Poland

Our Senior Research Fellow, and former Director of our Rule of Law Clinic Miroslaw Wroblewski has been appointed President of the Personal Data Protection Office in Poland. He took the oath of office at the Sejm (lower chamber of the Polish Parliament) on January 26.

Former and Current DI Affiliates Receive CEU PhD Awards

Three of our current and former affiliates, Ruth Gazso Candlish, Daragh John Hamilton and Anna Eva Grutza are among the recipients of the 2024 CEU PhD Awards. The doctoral awards recognize outstanding performance in research in the case of advanced students, and in coursework and comprehensive exams in the case of first year students. The awardees have been selected by the University Doctoral Committee.


Post-doctoral and Senior Research Fellowships

The OSUN Forum on Democracy and Development by CEU Democracy Institute (Budapest), Universidad de los Andes (Bogota), the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town and the Social Scientists’ Association of Sri Lanka (Colombo) invites applications for a total of 32 open positions: six post-doctoral and two senior research fellows at each of the four institutions for an 8-month residential fellowship program between October 1, 2024, and May 30, 2025. Read all the details here.

Post-doctoral Researcher in Horizon Europe Project

We invite applications for a part-time Post-doctoral Researcher position within the framework of the Horizon Europe research project RAISE. Learn more here.

Post-doctoral Researcher for the Inequalities and Democracy Working Group

Apart from pursuing their own research, the Post-doctoral Researcher will assist with constructing and consolidating an innovative, international research network for the research group. Read the details here.

Call for Papers: The Moral Dilemmas of Resistance

Democratic Expeditions is a series of research workshops by our De- and Re-Democratization Workgroup, the CEU Political Science Department, and the Regional Office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung on Democracy of the Future. Call for papers are open for its first workshop. Learn more here.



New Series: Illuminating Books on Democracy and Authoritarianism

The workgroup launched a new series of book presentations, focusing on volumes discussing democracy and authoritarianism. The first event discussed “Civil Movements in an Illiberal Regime” by Daniel Mikecz, while the second focused on “Ukraine's Patronal Democracy and the Russian Invasion,” by Balint Madlovics and Balint Magyar.

Open Questions: New Essay Series Launched

The workgroup, together with the CEU Political Science Department, also launched a new series of short analytic essays, raising specific politically relevant questions on democracy and authoritarianism which have not been adequately addressed (or answered) by comparative political science. Published by the Review of Democracy, the series is convened by Matthijs Bogaards and Andreas Schedler.


Book Launch and Exhibition to Commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Hungarian Shoah

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Hungarian Shoah, a book launch discussed "Jews in Hungarian Nation-building Before and After the Numerus Clausus" by Viktor Karady and István Kemeny. Following the discussion, an exhibition of artist András Böröcz's kinetic sculpture, the Noisemaker, was unveiled, emphasizing the importance of remembering the Holocaust and other atrocities against minorities.

Lecture on the Historicity of Historical Revisionism

In the Jeno Szucs Lecture series, Istvan Rev focused on the historicity of historical revisionism, one of the workgroup’s main research topics. He emphasized that the moral valorization of victimhood is only widespread since the 1960s, before that it was a stigma to be victims rather than victors. In terms of concrete historical examples, the French Revolution and the anti-totalitarian paradigm were at the center.


Statement at the UN Environment Assembly

Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis

The workgroup’s lead researcher, Stephen Stec delivered a statement on behalf of the Scientific and Technological Community Major Group in Nairobi, Kenya, at the Sixth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA).


Andrea Krizsan Participates in CFR Roundtable

The Lead Researcher of the workgroup, Andrea Krizsan participated in a Council on Foreign Relations roundtable on democratic regression and the rollback of gender equality. Together with Saskia Brechenmacher, fellow in the Democracy, Conflict and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, they discussed their research on how autocratic and illiberal governments that have rolled back women’s rights and gender equality.

Phillip Ayoub Joins the Workgroup

The workgroup welcomes as a Senior Research Affiliate to the group Phillip Ayoub, Professor at University College London. He will work together with the group developing strategic research directions, events and research collaborations.


Consultations to Develop a Curriculum

The workgroup continues to support the development of MA programs in Investigative Journalism in the region. The next step in the project, led by Senior Research Fellow Kate Coyer, is a series of consultations with experts and Advisory Board members to develop a model curriculum, building off previous work conducted by the former CEU Center for Media, Data and Society, and Sheila Coronel of the Columbia University School of Journalism.


Dimitry Kochenov Gives a Lecture at Yale University

In a public panel at Yale University with Hans Kundnani and Seyla Benhabib, the workgroup’s lead researcher Dimitry Kochenov discussed the “EU Death Machine,” based on a Verfassungsblog post, co-written with Sarah Ganty.

Immigration and Citizenship in Europe: Does ‘Illiberalism’ Matter?

At a workshop organized within the framework of our AUTHLIB project, Dimitry Kochenov and Elena Basheshka discussed their Oxford COMPAS paper, in which they demonstrate that the spheres of citizenship and migration emerge in contemporary Europe as areas with the liberalism-illiberalism divide, where almost absolute de facto solidarity across the political spectrum and levels of governance prevails.


Andras Sajo on Militant Rule Of Law And Not-so-bad Law

The question of how to reverse illiberal backsliding after regime change is becoming live within Europe and beyond. This podcast with Oliver Garner and Andras Sajo considers this dilemma through the recently published lens of Professor Sajo’s CEU DI working paper.

Fernando Casal Bertoa on Inter-party Relations in Spain

This podcast with Zsolt Enyedi and Fernando Casal Bertoa discusses inter-party relations in Spain, where, for most of its existence, the party system has been dominated by the Socialist Party, PSOE, and the People’s Party, PP.

Rochelle Terman on the Geopolitics of Shaming

In this interview with Kasia Krzyzanowska, Rochelle Terman discusses her most recent book The Geopolitics of Shaming: When Human Rights Pressure Works—and When It Backfires, published with Princeton University Press.

Mirjam Zadoff on the Culture of Remembrance

In this conversation with Ferenc Laczo, Mirjam Zadoff discusses what motivated her to publish a collection on global memory and which key themes she wanted to address, and how the explorations and reflection on key remembrance sites from across the globe have impacted her perspective on German and European trends.


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:

Beautiful Russia Of The Future Is Dead

Kremlin critic and leading opposition politician Alexei Navalny died in prison. “Let’s be honest. This is an overt political assassination. I dare say that along with him, the dream of many Russians of a “Beautiful Russia of the Future,” of a chance for democratic change within the existing system through peaceful means, has finally perished,” Yuri Terekhov reflects on the news and Navalny’s life.

In Changing Geopolitical Context, Eu Democracy Support Loses Momentum

As Europe continued to face multiple crises, including volatile situations in the Middle East, the Caucasus, and the Sahel, democracy policy lost some of its prominence in 2023, according to a new report published by the European Democracy Hub. Zselyke Csaky analyzes the findings.

The Rule of Law Restoration in Poland

In this conversation with Kasia Krzyzanowska, Krzysztof Izdebski (Batory Foundation) and Bartosz Pilitowski (Court Watch Poland) discuss all the current challenges the Polish government is facing with the legal legacy left by the Law and Justice party.

Learn more about the CEU Democracy Institute