Research projects

The causes and effects of partisan polarization in European democracies

Over the past three years, the phenomenon of political polarization has received more attention than ever in the Western world. As the majority of empirical research is still concerned with the polarization of the American electorate, the investigation of the phenomenon is increasingly important also in Europe. Existing results assume that strong polarization is related to weaker democratic and economic performance, but the scholarly knowledge about the emergence of polarization and the causal mechanisms of the process is very limited. Since recent studies showed that Hungary is one of the most polarized European countries, it is a particularly important task of Hungarian political science to carry out further investigations on the causes and impacts of the phenomenon. The aim of the research is to examine systematically both the causes and underlying causal mechanisms of the emergence of deep political dividedness, both the political, social and economic consequences of polarization by analysing comparative international databases. The project primarily uses quantitative methods.

Principal investigator: Veronika Patkós


Political communication on Facebook

(Doctoral research at Corvinus University of Budapest)

The doctoral research investigates the role social media in general and Facebook in particular play in contemporary political communication. Its starting point is that due to the wide expansion of Facebook use citizens’ political communication have become an important part of the political communication process. While in the third age of political communication (see, Blumler & Kavanagh, 1999) political communication aimed primarily to affect reactions and communication of mass media outlets, in case of political communication on social media exerting influence on citizens’ political communication has become crucial. While in case of mass media-centric communication those contents can reach a large number of voters that are extensively reported by media outlets, in social media political communication citizens’ reactions and communication can spread widely the messages. It is well documented in the literature that media reactivity can be triggered by contents fitting to the logic of mass media. This process is usually referred to as ‘mediatization’ of the politics by the literature (see, Strömbäck, 2008). Subsequent research has thoroughly documented what consequences have occurred in communicated content of politics due to mediatization of politics (e.g. personalization, negativity etc.). At the same time, our knowledge is very limited regarding citizens’ political communication on social media; little is known about what kind of political contents they react to and share with their friends. The close examination of this aspect will advance our understanding of what transformations in political communication in general and the content of political communication in particular is resulted in due to the emergence of social media in political communication. Consequently, the central research question of the project is that how citizens’ reactivity operates on candidates’ Facebook page. More specifically, the question is what kinds of contents are more likely reacted, shared and getting viral, i.e. extremely shared, out of the large number of posts candidates share with their followers.

Principal investigatorMarton Bene


Europeanization of public policy in Hungary

(MTA Bolyai Research Grant, 2018-2021)

This research project investigates the post-enlargement Europeanization of Hungarian public policy. Although Hungary has been member of the European Union for almost 15 years, close to nothing is known about to what extent the Hungarian governments have met the EU-level expectations and requirements. This is the first empirical research on the impact of EU membership on public policy in Hungary, and in this respect will supply novel insights into an often discussed but empirically rarely addressed issue. Our goal is to identify the degree to which Hungarian laws in different policy fields show European origin. We also seek to explore the similarities and differences in the transposition record of Hungarian governments since EU accession. By including the infringement procedures in this research, we also aim to identify the policy fields in which the relationship between the EU and the Hungarian governments have been the most conflictual since 2004. Three new databases that cover three aspects of the domestic policy impact of the EU membership (law-making in the Hungarian Parliament, implementation of country-specific recommendations, infringement procedures) will provide a sound basis for the empirical assessment of what effect the EU has had on public policy in Hungary. As a result, this project will contribute to a more evidence-based public discourse about Hungary’s EU membership.

Principal investigator: András Bíró-Nagy 


Separation of Powers

The principle of the separation of powers is one the cornerstones of constitutional democracies. However, it is a remarkably low-key concept in political theory. During this research my intention is to work out a concise and consistent normative description of this conception.

Principal investigator: Zoltán Balázs


Regional developmental capacities in the European peripheries 

Managing foreign investments and EU funds in Eastern and Southern Europe (MTA Premium postdoctoral research grant, no. PPD-028/2017) 

By examining the NUTS 2 regions of three Eastern (Hungary, Poland, Romania) and two Southern European (Portugal, Spain) EU member states, this research project asks whether regional developmental capacity is associated with EU funds spent on high value-added R&D and training projects and the amount and quality of foreign investments.

Principal investigator: Gergő Medve-Bálint


Election Pledges and Public Policy in Hungary, 1990-2014

The main goal of the project is to measure and explain the degree to which parties in Hungary have made accountable campaign promises and fulfilled them since the transition to democracy in 1990. The research questions can be formulated as follows:

1. How informative are party campaigns for citizens? To what degree do parties make accountable pledges?

2. Do governments in Hungary act according to their electoral mandate? To what degree does public policy enact election pledges?

3. Which factors contribute to or impede the accountability of campaign pledges and their fulfillment?

A rigorous assessment of the democratic performance of parties and governments yields a response to the first two questions, which is actually a form of democratic audit of politics in Hungary between 1990 and 2014.

Principal investigator: Gábor Dobos



The research program deals with institutional trust as a crucial component of legitimacy and policy effectiveness. The results of the research may have practical relevance, since several studies have demonstrated that ineffective public policy destroys the trust of the public in political and state institutions. And vice versa: institutions which are trusted function more effectively than others, because citizens cooperate more easily with trusted institutions. Trust in institutions is generally believed to depend on the two basic variable of perceived effectiveness (output) and perceived fairness (the normative dimension) of the institutional functioning. Our project analyses in detail the components of institutional trust, in both theoretical and empirical terms. Theoretical part of the research deals with the notion of public trust and related concepts like legitimacy, allegiance, cooperation etc. Here the basic research questions are the following: How can we conceptualize those notions in relation to each other? How can we interpret their role in effective governance? What are the conditions of trust and legitimacy in terms of the motivation of individual actors, and institutional arrangements? Empirical research uses a methodological mix, including survey analysis, case studies, and focus group research with the aim of conceptualizing the roots, the trends and various patterns of institutional trust in Hungary. However, international cases dealing with the issue of trust-based policy effectiveness are also of interest for the project. Moreover, while the project has a local focus, it includes a comparative dimension as well. And it obviously has the ambition of contributing to a general model of trust-based policy making.

The program includes now two specific projects:

FIDUCIA – New European Crimes and Trust-based Policy is an EU FP7 research project.

Details  »

Institutional Trust and Policy Effectiveness in Hungary is a project funded by the National Research Council (OTKA).

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The structural dynamics of Hungarian central government agencies

The proposed research seeks to describe and understand how post-transition Hungary’s central government agencies were, and are, created and (re-)structured. The research builds on the results of an earlier, larger international research project funded by the ESF COST Action. It is integrated into both on-going and emerging research cooperation among prominent European and non-European scholars (e.g. the COBRA network) and into the emerging public policy research framework of the host institution HAS CS. The reasearch project is coordinated by Gyorgy Hajnal and supported by OTKA (project #106333)

Principal investigator: Gyorgy Hajnal 


The research seeks to explore, describe and tipify, and possibly theoretically contextualize and explain shifts in government structures and functioning frequently denoted as „illiberal”. The components or these research activities vary sector-wise as well as geographically. As to their geographical scope, most of the research focus on Hungary as an exemplary case but some of them endeavour to carry out comparative research in the Eastern / Central European context. Sector-wise, research components focus on the central as well as the local/territorial tier of governance, while some of them deal with collaborative governance and the (changing) role of NGOs.

Principal investigator: Gyorgy Hajnal