New Projects Seminar Series at the GSSR

The GSSR announces the fourth in our new series of seminars addressed both to doctoral students and academic staff. The seminars aim to bring together students and established researchers working in the same field, thus promoting closer interaction and future collaboration between them.

During the seminars doctoral students present for discussion well-advanced research projects, with experienced scholars from various academic centres in Poland and abroad invited to take the role of commentators.

The seminars take place on the Zoom platform and are open to all.

This next seminar is scheduled for March 30th  at 16:00 Warsaw time (CET) with Edit Zgut presenting the topic, “Informal power in authoritarian hybrid regimes – a theoretical framework”, and András Bozóki and Daniel Kelemen as commentators.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 858 8521 9409
Passcode: 795655

Next seminar is planned for April 20th at 16:00.


  • 16:00  Steve Davies – Chair of the seminar – Welcome address
  • 16:05  Józef Niżnik – Hungary and Poland on the way to Authoritarianism – introductory remarks
  • 16:10  Edit Zgut – Informal power in authoritarian hybrid regimes – a theoretical framework
  • 16:40  András Bozóki (Central European University) – Commentator
  • 16:55  Daniel Kelemen (Rutgers University) – Commentator
  • 17:10  Discussion
  • 17:45  Closing remarks

Edit Zgut

Informal power in authoritarian hybrid regimes – a theoretical framework.


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.

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