Liberal and Illiberal Populism. The Leadership of Berlusconi and Orbán

András Körösényi, Veronika Patkós


The paper compares the political leadership of Silvio Berlusconi and Viktor Orbán from the beginning of their political careers to 2014, Besides giving a descriptive comparison of the Italian and Hungarian political leaders, the paper focuses on two questions: (1) the nature of their populism; (2) the quality and robustness of the changes induced by their policy. The paper concludes that both leaders introduced a new era in politics, but Orbán has been more effective in transforming policy means and priorities and also in adjusting the institutional settings (polity). Unlike Berlusconi, he has become a founder of a new regime; a democracy with authoritarian elements. Both of them are populist leaders in terms of substance, as well as process and linkage, but the ideological nature of their populism is rather different. While Berlusconi represents liberal populism, Orbán represents an illiberal one.


leadership, populism, illiberalism, Berlusconi, Orbán

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X