Religious Backgrounds of Illiberal Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe


  • Oliver Hidalgo WWU Münster


In a couple of Eastern European countries, the idea of illiberal democracy is outlined as a legitimate form of democratic governance, although it obviously threatens the rule of law in a democratic constitution at the same time. In this regard, religion often applies as an adequate resource to justify the aims of illiberal politics and, moreover, to provide a semblance of legitimacy to the idea and practice of illiberal democracy in toto. This article starts with the goal to locate the concept of illiberal democracy within the history of democratic theory and then continues with a clarification why religion is basically predestined to serve as a vital source of illiberal programs and to give populist actors much more than an alibi. Against this theoretical background, the role religion plays in contemporary Central and Eastern European democracies can be interpreted as both the result of religion’s Janus face concerning democracy and as a consequence of the liberal-illiberal paradox of democracy itself.