EURA Working Group on Municipal Councillors in Europe

EURA Working Group on Recentralisation in Countries Experiencing an ‘Illiberal Turn’

Recentralisation in Countries Experiencing an ‘Illiberal Turn’


The aim of this EURA working group is not to analyse recentralisation in general, but to focus on the countries experiencing an “illiberal turn”, and recentralization as its consequence.

The distinctiveness of an “illiberal turn” in these countries is seen in the fact that elections, as a core element of democratic governance, remain seemingly free but civil liberty and the institutional autonomy of various actors are increasingly limited by central government, the system of checks and balances are gradually eroded. These limitations are introduced as these centralised political systems are generally hostile to alternative, independent holders of political power that are able to mobilize the public: judicial authorities, public and private mass media, non-governmental organizations and – last but not least – local government. This also means that recentralization aiming at weakening subnational governments is in the respective countries mainly ideologically motivated.

The limitation of civil liberty and the institutional autonomy of various actors by an “illiberal turn” implies a “democratic backsliding” and leads to an “illiberal democracy” which takes often (as in Hungary and Turkey) the form of a “plebiscitarian authoritarianism”.  In such cases, an illiberal shift in the political domain is often accompanied by recentralization attempts, where rights previously held by local governments are reclaimed by the central government through various policy measures, consequently undermining the fair competition among political parties in local governance. These phenomena distinguish the research topic of the working group from the study of recentralization as well as of “post-democracy” in general.

We aim at systematically analysing the situation in the countries in order to identify patterns and stages of (a) recentralisation and (b) (re)actions by local government. (Re)actions by local government are of particular interest, because they allow to outline perspectives to oppose an illiberal shift in general and recentralisation in particular.

The presented focus also implies attention given to the discursive layer of ideologically driven recentralisation and local reactions towards it.


The next workshop will take place at the Institute of Political Science in Darmstadt on 8 and 9 November 2024. Until then…

  • the Polish team will: present a sample for country chapters to be published in a journal;
  • all national teams will:
    • update the scores of the Local Autonomy Index (LAI) until 2023 for their respective country
    • create an overview of the decentralisation measures in their respective country, and
    • place these measures on a timeline and assign them to the various dimensions of local autonomy they have targeted at;
  • an outline for (comparative) studies of the counter-reaction of local governments to the recentralisation measures of national governments will be prepared.

Those who are interested in joining us should contact us at

The current list of participants include:
Wirginia Aksztejn, Nufar Avni, Andrew Cartwright, Björn Egner, Dobos Gábor, Hubert Heinelt, László Kákai, Desislava Kalcheva, Joanna Krukowska, Marta Lackowska, Łukasz Mikuła, Irena Ograjensek, Guldem Ozatagan, Ilona Pálné Kovács, Ana Peric, Eran Razin, Evrim Tan, Iván Tosics, Ali Cenap Yologlu