ISSUE: 1/2022

  • Volume 26
  • Number 1
  • 2022

Studia Europejskie –
Studies in European Affairs

ISSN: 1428-149X
e-ISSN: 2719-3780

Ccbync License


Articles published in the journal are under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial – No Derivatives 4.0 International License

Interest Representation Preconditions in Illiberal Poland and Hungary


Poland and Hungary have been widely recognised as countries affected by illiberalism. This has undoubtedly created a challenging environment for interest groups; groups which are a touchstone for the quality of democratic processes. In this article, we aim to understand how preconditions for interest representation have changed due to illiberal drift through the eyes of interest groups operating in these two selected post-communist countries. In order to examine their perception of opportunity structures, interaction infrastructure as well as the level of political coordination under the new circumstances, we rely on quantitative research in the form of a survey carried out among interest group representatives. Our results indicate that the political systems of Poland and Hungary are still a mix of pluralist and corporatist features, however, the Polish political opportunity structures are still more open to input from civic society and interest groups have stronger positions compared to the situation in Hungary.


Amnesty International Report 2017/18 (2018) Available at: (Access 5.01.2022).

Bartha, A. (2014) Lifting the Lid on Lobbying: National Report of Hungary. Transparency International Hungary, Budapest. Available at: (Access 5.01.2022).

Bartha, A., Boda, Z. and Szikra, D. (2020) “When Populist Leaders Govern: Conceptualising Populism in Policy Making”, Politics and Governance. Vol. 8(3), pp. 71–81. DOI:

Baumgartner, F. et al. (2009) Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses and Why. Chicago: Chicago University Press. DOI:

Berkhout, J. and Lowery, D. (2011) “Short-term volatility in the EU interest community”, Journal of European Public Policy. Vol. 18, pp. 1–16. DOI:

Bermeo, N. (2016) “On Democratic Backsliding”, Journal of Democracy. Vol. 27(1), pp. 5–19. DOI:

Beyers, J. (2008) “Policy issues, organisational format and the political strategies of interest organisations”. West European Politics. Vol. 31(6), pp. 1188–1211. DOI:

Bertelsmann Stiftung (2018a) BTI 2018 Country Report — Hungary. Available at: le/local/2015267/BTI_2018_Hungary.pdf (Access 5.01.2022).

Bertelsmann Stiftung (2018b) BTI 2018 Country Report — Poland. Available at: leadmin/api/content/en/downloads /reports/
country_report_2018_POL.pdf (Access 5.01.2022).

Berkhout, J. (2013) “Why interest organizations do what they do: Assessing the explanatory potential of ‘exchange’ approaches”, Interest Groups & Advocacy. Vol. 2, pp. 227–250. DOI:

Binderkrantz, A.S. (2008) “Different Groups, Different Strategies: How Interest Groups Pursue Their Political Ambitions”, Scandinavian Political Studies. Vol. 31(2), pp. 173–200. DOI:

Binderkrantz, A.S., Christiansen, P.M. and Pedersen, H. (2014) “A Privileged Position? The Infl uence of Business Interests in Government Consultations”, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. Vol. 24, pp. 879–896. DOI:

Binderkrantz, A.S. et al. (2015) “Interest Group Access to the Bureaucracy, Parliament and the Media”, Governance. Vol. 28(1), pp. 95–112. DOI:

Bustikova, L. and Guasti, P. (2017) “The Illiberal Turn or Swerve in Central Europe?”, Politics and Governance. Vol. 5(4), pp. 166–176. DOI:

Buyse, A. (2018) “Squeezing Civic Space: Restrictions on Civil Society Organizations and the Linkages with Human Rights”, The International
Journal of Human Rights. Vol. 22(8), pp. 966–988. DOI:

Cianetti, L., Dawson, J. and Hanley, S. (2018) “Rethinking ‘democratic backsliding’ in Central and Eastern Europe – looking beyond Hungary
and Poland”, East European Politics. Vol. 34(3), pp. 243–256. DOI:

Dawson, J. and Hanley, S. (2016) “What’s Wrong with East-Central Europe? The Fading Mirage of the ‘Liberal Consensus’”, Journal of Democracy. Vol. 27(1), pp. 20–34. DOI:

Dobbins, M. and Riedel, R. (eds). (2021) Exploring Organized Interests in Post-Communist Policy-Making: The “Missing Link”. London: Routledge. DOI:

Dobbins, M., Piotrowska, E. and Von Bronk, M. (2021) Exploring interest intermediation in Central and Eastern European healthcare in Dobbins, M.
and Riedel, R. (eds.), Exploring Organized Interests in Post-Communist Policy-Making: The “Missing Link”. London: Routledge, pp. 95–123. DOI:

Ekiert, G. (2014) “Three generations of Research on Post Communist Politics – A Sketch”, East European Politics and Societies and Cultures. Vol.
29(2), pp. 323–337. DOI:

EPRS European Parliamentary Research Service (2019) Transparency of lobbying in Member States. Comparative Analysis. Available on: (Access 5.01.2022).

Fink-Hafner, D. (2011) “Interest representation and postcommunist parliaments over two decades”, The Journal of Legislative Studies. Vol.
17, pp. 215–233. DOI:

Fisker, H.M. (2013) “Density Dependence in Corporate Systems: Development of the Population of Danish Patient Groups (1901–2011)”, Interest Groups and Advocacy. Vol. 2, pp. 119–138. DOI:

Freedom House (2019) Freedom in the World 2019. Available at: (Access 5.01.2022).

Freedom House (2020) Nations in Transit 2020. Available at: nal.pdf (Access 5.01.2022).

Giannakopoulos, A. (ed.) (2019) Media, Freedom of Speech, and Democracy in the EU and Beyond. Tel Aviv: Daniel Abraham Center for International and Regional Studies, Tel Aviv University. Available at: (Access 5.01.2022).

Hanegraaff, M., Vergauwen, J. and Beyers, J. (2020) “Should I stay or should I go? Explaining variation in non state actor advocacy over time in global governance”, Governance. Vol. 33, pp. 287–304. DOI:

Howard, M.M. (2003) “The Weakness of Postcommunist Civil Society”, Journal of Democracy. Vol. 13, pp. 157–169. DOI:

Huq, A. and Ginsburg, T. (2018) “How to Lose a Constitutional Democracy”, UCLA Law Review. Vol. 78, pp. 78–169. Available at: (Access 5.01.2022).

Karolewski, I.P. and Benedikter, R. (2017) “Europe’s New Rogue States, Poland and Hungary: A Narrative and Its Perspectives”, Chinese Political Science Review. Vol. 2, pp. 179–200. DOI:

Kornai, J. (2015) “Hungary’s U-Turn: Retreating from Democracy”, Journal of Democracy. Vol. 26(3), pp. 34–48. DOI:

Klüver, H. (2009) “Interest group infl uence on EU policy-making: A quantitative analysis across issues”, Political Science. Available at: (Access 5.01.2022).

Klüver, H. and Saurugger, S. (2013) “Opening the Black Box: The professionalisation of Interest Groups in the EU”, Interest Groups & Advocacy. Vol. 2, pp. 185–205. DOI:

Kovács, B. (2015) Hungary 2015 in Habdank-Kołaczkowska, S. (ed.), Nations in Transit 2015: Democracy on the Defensive in Europe and Eurasia, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

Laboutková, Š. and Vymětal, P. (2019) “A new approach in evaluation of transparent lobbying – the case of Visegrad group countries”, Administratie si Management Public. Vol. 33, pp. 119–132. DOI:

Levitsky, S. and Way, L. (2015) “The Myth of Democratic Recession”, Journal of Democracy. Vol. 26(1), pp. 45–58. DOI:

Lowery, D. and Gray, V. (1996). The population ecology of interest representation: Lobbying communities in the American states. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. DOI:

Meyer, M. et al. (2017) Patterns in Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: A Synthesis of 16 Country Reports and Expert Survey in. Vandor,
P. et al (eds.), Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities. Vienna: ERSTE Stiftung Studies.

Pirro, A. and Stanley, B. (2021) “Forging, Bending, and Breaking: Enacting the “Illiberal Playbook” in Hungary and Poland”, Perspectives on
Politics. pp. 1–16. DOI:

Pospieszna, P., Vetulani-Cęgiel, A. (2021) “Polish interest groups facing democratic backsliding”, Interest Groups & Advocacy. Vol. 10, pp. 158–
180. DOI:

Riedel, R. (2020) Undermining the Standards of Liberal Democracy within the European Union: The Polish Case and the Limits of Post-Enlargement
Democratic Conditionality in Fossum, J. and Batora, E. (eds.), Towards a Segmented European Political Order The European Union’s Post-crises
Conundrum. London: Routledge, pp. 175–198.

Rozbicka, P. et al. (2021) Achieving Democracy Through Interest Representation. Interest Groups in Central and Eastern Europe. London: Palgrave
MacMillan. DOI:

Sata, R. and Karolewski, I.P. (2019) “Caesarean politics in Hungary and Poland”, East European Politics. Vol. 36(2), pp. 206–225. DOI:

Stewart, J.D. (1959) “British Pressure Groups: Their Role in Relation to the House of Commons”, The Journal of Politics. Vol. 21(1), pp. 142–144.

Sorurbakhsh, L. (2013) “Population ecology and European Interest Groups over time: A dataset”, European Political Science. Vol. 13, pp. 61–77. DOI:

Schmitter, C.P. (2015) “Crisis and Transition, But Not Decline”, Journal of Democracy. Vol. 26(1), pp. 32–44. DOI:

Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (2019). Available at:
200331_141425.pdf (Access 5.01.2022).

Vargovcikova, J. (2017) “Inside lobbying regulation in Poland and the Czech Republic: negotiating public and private actors’ roles in governance”, Interest Groups and Advocacy. Vol. 6, pp. 253–271. DOI:

Wiszowaty, M.M. (2018) “Phantom regulation” or 13 years of the Polish law on lobbying and what did (not) result from it”, Istituzioni del Federalismo. Rivista di studi giuridici e politici. Vol. 3–4. Available at: (Access 5.01.2022)

Language: English

Pages: 47-62

How to Cite:


Riedel, R. and Szyszkowska, E. (2022) "Interest Representation Preconditions in Illiberal Poland and Hungary". Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2022, pp. 47-62. DOI: 10.33067/SE.1.2022.3