Illiberal Populism: Competition Law at Risk?

55 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2019 Last revised: 27 Dec 2021

See all articles by Maciej Bernatt

Maciej Bernatt

University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management

Date Written: January 24, 2019


The paper presents the preliminary findings. For final findings please refer to the forthcoming monograph: Maciej Bernatt, Populism and Antitrust. The Illiberal Influence of Populist Government on the Competition Law System (Cambridge University Press 2022),

The aim of this working paper is to preliminary identify those processes triggered by the rise of illiberal populism which have a potential to adversely affect the competition law system. It is hypothesized that these processes may be of a three-fold nature:

1) they may involve limitations on the independence and expertise of the institutions responsible for the application of competition law (competition authorities and courts);

2) they may affect enforcement of competition law; and

3) they may affect regional competition law systems.

To illustrate whether illiberal populism is capable of affecting the competition law system, the paper analyzes the situations in Poland and Hungary. The analyses cover some aspects of the functioning of competition agencies and the judiciary in these countries, as well as changes introduced to both existing laws and the practice of their enforcement. The paper speaks to the broader literature concerning the relationship between democracy and competition law systems.

Keywords: Rule of law, populism, illiberalism, independence, courts, competition agencies, protectionism, EU, ECN+ Directive

JEL Classification: K20, K21, K23, K38

Suggested Citation

Bernatt, Maciej, Illiberal Populism: Competition Law at Risk? (January 24, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Maciej Bernatt (Contact Author)

University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management ( email )



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