Global Discourse
An interdisciplinary journal of current affairs

Entering the ‘post-shame era’: the rise of illiberal democracy, populism and neo-authoritarianism in EUrope

Author: Ruth Wodak1
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  • 1 Lancaster University, , UK/University of Vienna, , Austria
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The term ‘illiberal democracy’, coined by Fareed Zakaria in 1997, has gained much traction, specifically since its use by Hungarian Prime Minster Victor Orbán in 2014. Ever since, Orbán and his governing party Fidesz have been implementing this vision resulting in major cutdowns on free speech, freedom of press, of various NGOs which support human rights, and so forth. Moreover, Fidesz won the 2018 national election with a strong focus on antiimmigration policies. Although Orbán’s restrictive migration policies were widely criticised during the so-called refugee crisis 2015, many EU member states have started to follow the Hungarian policy of closing borders and protecting the EU from asylum-seekers and an alleged invasion by Muslims. Hence, I claim that formerly taboo subjects and expressions in mainstream discourse are being accepted more and more (‘normalisation’). Such normalisation goes hand in hand with a certain ‘shamelessness’: the limits of the sayable are shifting regarding both the frequency of lies and the violating of discourse conventions – as well as regarding repeated attacks on central democratic institutions. Normalising the assessment of migrants as a threat to inner security and a burden on the welfare state and education system must be perceived as an international development – generally instrumentalising a ‘politics of fear’.

  • 1 Lancaster University, , UK/University of Vienna, , Austria

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