Flagship projects

Democratic Efficacy and the Varieties of Populism in Europe (DEMOS)

Funded by EU H2020

The DEMOS project attempts to address the populist challenge through the lens of democratic efficacy. The concept of democratic efficacy combines attitudinal features (political efficacy), democratic skills and democratic opportunity structures in building on the assumption that the expression of populism is a symptom of mismatch between how the democratic polity operates and how citizens conceive their own aspirations, needs and identities vis-à-vis the polity.

We assume that people are more prone to lean towards populism if they perceive their personal capacities and institutional opportunities to influence politics (i.e., their democratic efficacy) as being limited; that is, the costs of investing in reflective political engagement are perceived as being too high. DEMOS assumes that this situation cannot be blamed on one of the parties (that is, either the polity or the citizen) exclusively—it is the result of a complex interaction in which the features of the political system don’t match the aspirations and needs of the individual. The notion of democratic efficacy is designed to conceptually capture this interaction between the polity and the citizen. It also provides a practical starting point to elaborate and test proposals on how to increase personal capacities and institutional opportunities against the challenge of populism.

Applying the approach of democratic efficacy to examine coping strategies for populism is a novelty within the DEMOS project, building upon previous studies about political efficacy, political skills and opportunity structures.

Principal investigator: Zsolt Boda


Hungarian Comparative Agendas Project (CAP) 

The purpose of the Hungarian Comparative Agendas Project (CAP) is to reveal the dynamics of Hungarian public policy by investigating the various public policy and political agendas using quantiative methods.The research takes place at MTA TK Institute for Political Science and is supported by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA). 

The project adapts the Policy Agendas Project’s public policy content analysis codebook created by Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones to the local environment.The research aims to create a consistent database of defining issues for the actors of Hungarian public policy - such as the parliament, the media, and the public actors. The reliability of the measurements is guaranteed by clearly defined, coherent coding rules, whereby the changes of the government’s priorities can be consistently traced in time and also in areas of the public policy.

Within the framework of CAP research, several databases have been created containing data available for researchers, students, professionals, and public actors.At present, data collected within the framework of the project include:

·         Budgets and Final Accounts between 1991 and 2013

·         Laws

·         Interpellations

·         Urgent Questions

·         Members of Parliament elected between 1990 and 2014

·         Committees of the National Assembly between 1990 and 2014

·         Parties with Members of Parliament between 1990 and 2014

·         Leaders of the National Assembly's caucuses

·         Front page headlines of Magyar Nemzet (a conservative daily) and Népszabadság (a left-liberal daily)

·         Data of Single-Member Districts

·         Governments

Principal investigator: Zsolt Boda

Project leader: Miklós Sebők


Return of the Weberian leaders

Return of the Weberian leaders: plebiscitary leader democracy as a means of cognition for contemporary political trends

(NKFIH project number: K 128139)

The main question of the research is how contemporary developments in liberal democracies (their deconsolidation, the rise of populism) are connected to broader changes of recent decades in the political field and citizens’ political behaviour. The aim is to explore a realist (i.e. being empirically more relevant and carrying more realistic normative expectations) theory of democracy through re-working Weber’s concept of plebiscitary leader democracy (PLD). Empirical evidence about the functioning of contemporary democracies often challenges classical (normative) theories of democracy.

The project is expected to contribute to (1) contemporary debates on regimes, democratic theory as well as normative discourses, (2) empirical political science on both political regimes and current transformations that affect leaders and voters. The project aims to formulate a new conceptual framework of political regimes and to reveal data that shed light on how these regimes work in the midst of the Millennial political trends. On the one hand, the research contributes to the discourse about current populism. On the other hand, its outcome aspires to narrow the gap between democratic theory and empirical realities. As a theoretical and conceptual innovation, the PLD model provides a framework to analyse the conditions of contemporary politics that (a) give leaders opportunity for authoritarian rule with democratic legitimacy and (b) the conditions that give citizens some control over them.

Principal investigator: András Körösényi


Political communication research project

The Political Communication Research Group was founded in 2005 at the HAS Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Political Science. It conducts theoretical and empirical researches on the following topics: Political communication in Hungary; International tendencies in the political communication; Communication and political theory; Communication and political community, publicity; Political campaigns; Politics and media; Visual communication.

Principal investigator: Balázs Kiss

Group projects