Orbán, Populism, and the Legal Path to Autocracy with Kim Lane Scheppele


In this episode of the Vienna Coffee House Conversations, Ivan Vejvoda hosts Kim Lane Scheppele, the Lawrence S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Princeton University. With a particular focus on the example of Hungary under Orbán, they explore the rise of populism, identity politics, and nationalism, and point out the threats these pose to democracy—especially when leaders exploit the legal frameworks of democratic institutions to entrench and extend their power. How can populism corrupt a democratic state into an autocracy?

Kim Lane Scheppele is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Princeton University, focusing on the intersection of constitutional and international law, particularly in systems under stress. She has researched the development of constitutional law in Hungary and Russia post-1989 and the impact of anti-terrorism laws globally post-9/11. Scheppele has served as an expert advisor to the Hungarian Parliament's Constitutional Drafting Committee and co-directed the Gender and Culture Studies program at Central European University. She previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and has held visiting professorships at Humboldt University, Erasmus University, Yale, and Harvard. She directed Princeton’s Program in Law and Public Affairs and has received the Kalven Prize from the Law and Society Association, with elections to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the International Academy of Comparative Law.