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CANCELLED: Democratic backsliding and state politicisation: Evidence from 30 years of political appointments in Hungary

Thursday 19 March 2020
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague

With regret we would like to inform you that, jointly with our speaker Prof. Meyer-Sahling and in the light of ongoing measures from public institutions to limit the outbreak of the corona virus, we have decided to this event. We hope you understand this measure in the context of uncertainty about the measures that are being taken in response to the virus spread in the Netherlands. We will certainly have this speaker visiting later in the year and inform you in due time about the new date.

What is the relationship between democratic backsliding and the politicisation of the state? Much of the academic debate has so far focused on the patterns and causes of democratic backsliding. By contrast, little remains known of the impact of democratic backsliding on the management of the state, in particular, top officials who are critically exposed the strategies of illiberal leaders to roll back democracy.

Jan-Hinrik Meyer-Sahling (University of Nottingham) and Fanni Toth (University of Loughborough) examine the management of top officials before and after the onset of democratic backsliding in one Central and Eastern European country: Hungary. Their analysis is based a dataset of more than 1,400 top officials that covers their appointment, dismissal and career background since 1990.

It shows that democratic backsliding is associated with an increase in the number of political appointments and a growing instability of top official positions. This trend is particularly evident from 2010. However, the analysis also reveals that the roots of partisan politicisation reach back to the early 2000s and late 1990s, suggesting a gradual rather than abrupt increase in executive politicisation over time.

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