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New Projects Seminar Series: Informal exercise of power in hybrid regimes – How did Fidesz and PiS government use informal power to tilt the playing field

Edit Zgut, GSSR PhD candidate

March 30, 2021, 16:00, Staszic Palace, Nowy Świat 72, Warsaw, room 232

Hungary and Poland have has seen the most widespread democratic erosion in the European Union since Fidesz and Law and Justice started illiberal remodeling in 2010 and 2015 respectively. Despite that the EU has introduced various doctrinal innovations, it could not enforce these regimes to comply with the core values of the EU. Furthermore, the EU did not substantively address the informal exercise of power that undermined the Hungarian and the Polish democracy in substance. While the literature has focused on the formal violation of the law, the links between the informal power and the limited constraining role of the EU remained under-theorized. My study aims to fill the gap by studying the informal practices of Fidesz and PiS government that helped them to create an uneven playing political field. Connecting the literature on authoritarian hybrid regimes and informality, it will be shown through three main domains how the Hungarian and Polish government (1) employed informal (coercive) clientelist tools during elections, (2) how it captured the media by loyal oligarchs/allies, and (3) how decision-making/executive power is being distributed in these regimes. While the study proposes a theoretical framework related to the Hungarian and Polish examples, it is also a warning sign for the EU to take the informal exercise of power seriously.

Event supported by NAWA Welcome to Poland.