Matthew C. MacWilliams is the global public opinion lead of the Foundation International Communications Hub (Comms Hub), a newly established organization located in Spain and dedicated to the furtherance of civil society and democracy around the world. He earned his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Massachusetts where he was a visiting research associate and also lectured on democracy and participation in the international Civic Initiative program.
Through surveys and focus groups, he has examined the roots of democratic deconsolidation and rise of illiberal politics in the United States and countries across Eurasia and Europe . He has conducted quantitative and qualitative research exploring this question in over 25 countries including Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States.
His studies have tested a wide range of explanations for the rise of illiberalism among citizens, including populism, hostile sexism, nationalism, ideology, globalism, inconsistent support for democracy and institutions, and authoritarianism. Most of his work has concluded that populism is not the main dispositional driver behind the rise of illiberal politics. Instead, authoritarianism—activated by elite rhetoric, threat, and fear—and democratic deconsolidation appear to be the common factors correlating with the emergence of political extremism in Europe and the United States.
The Amherst College Press, Praeger Publishing, Political Science Quarterly, PS: Political Science and Politics, and the Academy of Political Science have published peer-reviewed articles of his on democracy, polarization, and authoritarianism. Through speeches, presentations, and lectures he has presented his work on the rise of authoritarianism and its implications for the future of democracy to elected officials and civil society leaders and activists across Eurasia. Europe, and the United States.