About this event

Given its great impact on the well-being of the individual, social policy plays a key role in political campaigns and governance. It is a particularly important topic for illiberal actors since they, unlike autocrats, must still build popular legitimacy, and social policy is critical to doing so. Social policy and illiberalism, however, is an under-researched area. To date, there is no comparative account of illiberal welfare-state regimes.
To fill this gap, this event, which presents Dorottya Szikra’s working paper, “Illiberalism and Social Policy: A Four-Country Comparison”, examines the social policies of Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Poland, all of which are EU member states that experienced illiberal rule in recent decades. The four countries followed three welfare regimes, which allows for a comparative perspective.

The paper, using qualitative text analysis of party manifestos and policy documents between 2008 and 2023, addresses the following questions: What kind of social policies do illiberal actors pursue? Are their social policy reforms popular? Is there an illiberal style of policymaking?
The findings indicate a gradual “leftist” turn of illiberal parties in economic and social policies that is, however, focused on performance.  Somewhat paradoxically, illiberal actors fight gender wars in an effort to devote greater attention to female constituencies.
Join us for a discussion on these questions and findings by clicking on the button above. Please, indicate if you wish to join online or in person. Details about the online access will follow. Please contact Monika Dlugosch ([email protected]) if you require further information.

This event takes place in the framework of the “AUTHLIB – Neo-authoritarianisms in Europe and the Liberal Democratic Response” project funded by the EU and UK Research and Innovation. Views and opinions expressed during the event do not necessarily reflect those of the funders, which take no responsibility for them.

To learn more about the AUTHLIB project, visit its website here. You can sign up for updates about the project here.

The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a nonpartisan policy organization committed to the idea that the United States and Europe are stronger together.