Democracy, Populism, & Domestic Politics, Middle East, Power & Security Elected leaders in Israel, Poland, and Hungary are following the 'autocrat’s playbook'

March 31, 2023
By Trudy Rubin | The Philadelphia Inquirer

A couple of weeks ago, as I moderated a discussion at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House on the heated battle to control Israel’s courts, the talk turned to “the elected autocrat’s playbook.”

That snappy political science term refers to steps taken by elected officials in ongoing democracies like Israel to undermine democracy by democratic means.

Government efforts to politicize Israel’s courts fit right into the so-called playbook. Israel is effectively imitating similar steps taken by elected autocrats in Poland and Hungary (whose antisemitic leader, Viktor Orbán, is openly admired by Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, and the Republican Party).

The playbook also perfectly describes what Trump and his imitators tried to do when he was in office, and what they still advocate in pre-2024 campaign efforts. Mercifully, the complex U.S. political system has made the playbook harder to follow, but the efforts won’t stop.

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