“The rise of authoritarian populism and European integration: Central East and South East Europe”

in edited volume “The Crisis and Future of Democracy”

Background & objectives (edited volume)

Democracy is in jeopardy. The rise and rise of authoritarian populism as well as the accompanying polarisation of politics and sustained attacks on the fundamental norms and foundations of liberal democracy in Europe and elsewhere have made that clear. Yet these symptoms are also reflective of a much longer decline of institutions in contemporary liberal representative democracies. Low levels of electoral participation, low levels of trust in government and political institutions, erosion of mainstream parties and party membership, fragmentation of the political landscape, and the decline of established channels to represent and mediate societal interests (parties, unions) epitomise this long-term trend.

The chapter: The rise of authoritarian populism and European integration: Central and South East Europe (Hungary/Serbia)

For nearly two decades, the post-socialist countries of Central and South East Europe that have joined the EU since 2004 have been hailed as models of successful “democratisation by integration”. In recent years, however, these countries have been discussed variously as cases of “democratic backsliding”, “illiberal democracies”, or “last stage of neoliberalism”, to name but a few interpretations. We have equally seen much discussion of authoritarian populism across EU candidate states in South East Europe well within the context of EU democratisation efforts. With this chapter we want to invite a historically and empirically informed study on the reasons for autocratisation across both regions in the context of EU integration, with Hungary and Serbia as case studies and embedding these in a bird’s view perspective on the regions broadly. In particular, the chapter should reflect on the following questions (though is not limited to these):

  • How has autocratisation developed in Hungary and Serbia respectively?
  • What has been the role of EU integration and democracy promotion in the process? How has it differed with respect to both countries (or waves of accession)?
  • What can these insights tell us about (potential) current or future processes of autocratisation in other countries from across the regions?
  • What are realistic scenarios for the mid- to long-term defeat of authoritarian populism across the region? Are European institutions an ally or an obstacle in the process?
  • Which consequences are to be expected for the normative or hegemonic force of liberal democracy in the EU and beyond?

We invite authors to focus on these and other questions linked to the rise of authoritarian populism in the context of EU democratisation efforts in CEE/SEE. Original empirical research is welcome but not required, however the paper’s argument must be supported by empirical evidence.


  • The paper should be no longer than 9,000 words, excluding list of references, and written in (British) English.
  • The contribution should be written with an informed, non-specialist audience in mind, targeting specifically practitioners, activists, stakeholders, politicians and other political actors on the left/progressive spectrum.
  • The contribution must adhere to referencing standards and the RLS style guide, which will be shared with the author(s) whose proposal is accepted for publication.
  • Potential authors should be aware of the minimum of two rounds of review and revision anticipated, plus language editing, if applicable, which will require quick turnarounds December-January 2020.
  • The timeline is non-negotiable unless modified by RLS Brussels.
  • We offer 3.000€ for the paper (to be invoiced by the contractor and paid by RLS Brussels after completion of the revision/editing process).

The book

This edited volume to which this chapters contributes will bring together scholars, researchers, activists and practitioners to discuss the state of democracy as well as to explore potential future developments in contemporary liberal representative democracy. It aims to take stock of and analyse the problems of contemporary democracy in Europe from a left-wing perspective. Second, it seeks to explore approaches to transforming democratic representation, participation and governance at any level (local, regional, national, supranational/transnational) with a view to forging an inclusive, equal, free, just and sustainable society.


  • Submission of abstracts: 20 October 2020
  • Submission of full papers: within 2 months of acceptance
  • Minimum of two rounds of review & revision: December 2020/January 2021 (submission dates TBC) Language editing: January-February 2021 (dates TBC)
  • Publication: Spring 2021


Abstracts of up to 1,000 words outlining the proposed argument and approach must be submitted to Ada Regelmann at nqn.ertryznaa@ebfnyhk.bet, subject line: “[your name] – Abstract: The Crisis and Future of Democracy”.

Call for ChapterPDF file