The Challenge from Within: EU Development Cooperation and the Rise of Illiberalism in Hungary and Poland

Balázs Szent-Iványi*, Patryk Kugiel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines how the emergence of 'illiberal democracy' in Hungary and Poland has impacted the behaviour of these two countries in the EU's international development policy making processes. Adapting Hirschmann's concepts of voice, exit and loyalty, the article argues that three factors may have undermined the loyalty of these member states towards EU development policy, increasing the likelihood of them using more extreme forms of voice (vetoes) or even enact partial exits from the policy area. Erosion of loyalty is seen to be more likely if (1) illiberalism actually impacts bilateral development policies in the two countries; (2) they have poor track records in influencing EU development policy; and (3) alternatives to EU level action emerge. Applying this framework, a greater erosion of loyalty is expected in the case of Hungary than for Poland. Hungary's recent actions in EU development policy are in line with the expectations from the framework: it has increasingly been using more extreme forms of voice following the 2015 refugee crisis, while Poland has been a less 'problematic' member state in the policy area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-138
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


  • EU development cooperation
  • Hungary
  • Illiberalism
  • Poland
  • Voice and exit


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