Democracy cannot really function if it is not liberal. Interview with Cas Mudde

Among the challengers to liberal democracy in Europe, we can count populists, autocrats, and the increasingly often mentioned illiberals. But who are they and what is illiberalism? How does it relate to populism? Can illiberals be democrats at all? What are the policy implications of having illiberal politicians, especially of the radical right, in power in the EU? This interview explores these questions with Professor Cas Mudde. It covers various issues at the intersection of academic and policy research on populism, illiberalism, democracy, and the radical right. It discusses whether the growing body of literature on illiberalism addresses something that is fundamentally new on the global political agenda, how this literature relates to academic research on populism, and if illiberalism and democracy are reconcilable against the backdrop of a global trend of autocratization, which many scholars of democracy have noted, and which is often attributed to illiberal and populist leaders. Furthermore, the conversation sets out to understand how the recent election outcomes in Slovakia and Poland fit into the aforementioned trend and also predict what is in store for European democracies in the near future as illiberal actors of the radical right are readying themselves for the next European parliamentary elections in June 2024.

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