How do soft author­i­tar­i­an prac­tices hol­low out lib­er­al demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and val­ues? How is „auto­crat­ic legal­ism“ (Kim Lane Schep­pele) put in place by var­i­ous gov­ern­ments? How and why are aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom and free­dom of press under attack? Can we entrust big tech cor­po­ra­tions to guard against hate speech and incite­ments to vio­lence? Which rhetoric and dis­cours­es are employed to under­mine demo­c­ra­t­ic processes?

This blog maps and analy­ses var­i­ous facets of what we define as “soft author­i­tar­i­an­ism” in today’s world. Curat­ed by the Research Group Soft Author­i­tar­i­anisms, it con­tributes to the debate on grow­ing author­i­tar­i­an ten­den­cies around the world.

Offer­ing a cross-dis­ci­pli­nary dia­logue, it address­es var­i­ous forms of chal­lenges to lib­er­al democ­ra­cy and of active cit­i­zen engage­ment to pro­tect and deep­en demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions in the face of the cur­rent backlash.

Brazil between the first and sec­ond rounds of gen­er­al elections

Ricar­do Pagliu­so Regatieri18. Octo­ber 20228 min read

On Octo­ber 2, Brazil­ians went to the bal­lots to vote for pres­i­dent, state gov­er­nors, sen­a­tors, as well as fed­er­al and state rep­re­sen­ta­tives. In the pres­i­den­tial race, the cen­ter-left-wing for­mer pres­i­dent Lula da Sil­va from the Work­ers Par­ty (PT) received 48%…

The Future Mel­oni Gov­ern­ment and the Long Drift of Ital­ian Democracy

Adri­ano Coz­zoli­no11. Octo­ber 202211 min read

“Rome wasn’t build in a day” – and nei­ther is a rad­i­cal right-wing gov­ern­ment like the one now form­ing in Italy fol­low­ing the elec­tions held in Sep­tem­ber 2022. The result of the elec­tions, while sure­ly not unex­pect­ed, offers the opportunity…

Zwis­chen Apathie und Hoffnung

Ulrike Flad­er14. Decem­ber 20218 min read
<strong>Zwis­chen Apathie</strong> und Hoffnung

Zum „san­ften“ Autori­taris­mus in der Türkei. Die strate­gis­che und flex­i­ble Ver­flech­tung von demokratis­chen und nicht-demokratis­chen Prak­tiken ist ein Charak­terzug ‚san­fter‘ For­men autoritär­er Regierung. Ein Ver­ständ­nis von der Pro­duk­tion von Affek­ten wie Apathie und Hoff­nung in diesem Zusam­men­hang kann uns helfen, ihre…

The Weaponiza­tion of Repub­li­can Val­ues in France

Hagen Stein­hauer23. Novem­ber 20218 min read

There is an ongo­ing bat­tle for cul­tur­al hege­mo­ny in France. Far-right ide­olo­gies are being nor­mal­ized, their stig­ma­tiz­ing vocab­u­lary thus not only gains pub­lic accep­tance but also comes to shape the government’s agen­da on minor­i­ty rights. Two deroga­to­ry terms have gained…

Didi­er Fassin: Death of a Trav­eller. A Counter Investigation.

Jens Adam22. Sep­tem­ber 202110 min read
<strong>Didi­er Fassin: Death of a Trav­eller.</strong> A Counter Investigation.

Ein 37-jähriger Mann wird auf dem elter­lichen Hof von der franzö­sis­chen Polizei erschossen, nach­dem er sich nach dem gewährten Freigang nicht ins Gefäng­nis zurück­begeben hat­te. Jens Adam rezen­siert Didi­er Fassins neu erschienenes Buch, im dem die Umstände des Todes nachvollzogen…

On Dai­ly Encoun­ters and Pub­lic Infra­struc­tures: What Keeps Democ­ra­cies Alive?

Jens Adam6. July 20217 min read

Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion? – Through a Soft Author­i­tar­i­an Lens In this com­ment, Jens Adam reflects on episode S2E5 of the pod­cast series “Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?” fea­tur­ing Till van Rah­den. Once in pow­er, soft author­i­tar­i­an politi­cians strive to dom­i­nate pub­lic institutions…

Soft Author­i­tar­i­an­ism and the Ambiva­lences of Euro­peani­sa­tion: What Role Could the EU Play?

Jens Adam6. May 20218 min read

Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion? – Through a soft author­i­tar­i­an lens In this com­ment, Jens Adam reflects on the lat­est episode of the pod­cast series “Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?” fea­tur­ing Tim­o­thy Gar­ton Ash. Jens argues that the role that the EU plays in…

Civ­il Soci­ety Revis­it­ed: Democ­ra­cy and Grass­roots Authoritarianism

Jens Adam9. April 20219 min read

Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion? – Through a Soft Author­i­tar­i­an Lens In this com­ment on the last episode of our pod­cast series ‘Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?’ Jens Adam reflects on Mary Kaldor’s notions of  ‘Civ­il Soci­ety’ and ‘Hor­i­zon­tal Democ­ra­cy’. Draw­ing on exam­ples from Poland, Belarus and Ukraine,…