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Larissa Böckmann

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 7 – The politics of the untidy right: illiberal democracy as a contagious concept

With a personal research focus on the far right in a comparative perspective, I found the perfect match in my PhD project. Enthusiastic about political science, interdisciplinary research and academic cooperation.

Host Institutions

The Politics of the untidy right: Illiberal democracy as a contagious concept


  • Sarah de Lange
  • Nathalie Brack

Research abstract

Recent years have been characterized by multiple internal and external challenges to liberal
democracy. One such challenge comes from far-right parties, who, when in government, have
contributed to democratic backsliding. However, in the literature the focus has been
predominantly on the illiberal regimes established by far-right parties or on populism and
nativism as important features of the far-right, but far less on these parties’ embrace of a
distinct illiberal ideology. This holds also true for the (comparative) study of a
‘radicalization’ of the mainstream in their conception of democracy and/or their commitment
to liberal democracy: so-called contagion effects have been analyzed in the fields of migration or welfare policies, but the adaption of a populist radical right model of democracy or illiberal ideology among mainstream parties remains understudied.
This is an important shortcoming as more and more parties are gaining ground or have taken
office in diverse countries such as Hungary or Italy, in some cases already severely undermining democracy.
Second, mainstream parties seem to become more open to positively
engage with far-right parties and to abandon former existing cordon sanitaires, which should
have consequences for the whole party system and potentially even affects democratic quality
on the long run. Studying the dissemination of an ideological alternative to liberalism and
liberal democracy both within the far-right and among the so-called mainstream is thus of
high importance, helping us to better understand channels and mechanisms of diffusion as
well as the motivation behind illiberal regime transformations.
Larissa Böckmann holds a Master’s degree in Empirical Research on Democracy and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Mainz. During her studies, she acquired international experience in Spain and Colombia and work experience with different NGO’s. Larissa’s broader research interest lies in the field of comparative politics and political sociology, with a focus on the far right, political culture, and democratic backsliding.