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Authoritarian populism at work: A political transaction cost approach with reference to Viktor Orbán’s Hungary

Ádám, Z; (2018) Authoritarian populism at work: A political transaction cost approach with reference to Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. (UCL Centre for Comparative Studies of Emerging Economies Working Papers 2018/2). UCL Centre for Comparative Studies of Emerging Economies (CCSEE): London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper conceptualizes authoritarian populism in an institutional economics context. Examining the literature on populism in political science, it considers authoritarian populism a degraded form of democracy that holds elections in regular intervals as means of popular legitimation, but undermines pluralism and constrains political choice. Based on the theory of transaction cost economics, the paper argues that authoritarian populism reduces political transaction costs by vertically organizing political exchange instead of the horizontal organization characteristic of liberal democracy. Electoral demand for such a shift rises at times of crises and a mismatch between formal and informal political institutions. This is what happened in Hungary towards the end of the 2000s, in a period of socially costly fiscal stabilization and the troubles of the global financial crisis. Correspondingly, voters have given Prime Minister Orbán strong mandates to govern at three consecutive elections since 2010, who transformed Hungary into a textbook case of authoritarian populism.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Authoritarian populism at work: A political transaction cost approach with reference to Viktor Orbán’s Hungary
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ssees/comparative-studies-em...
Language: English
Keywords: authoritarian populism, democratic populism, political transaction costs, political exchange, Hungary
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10050931
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