The project asks how illiberal elites manage to maintain democratic support while weakening key democratic institutions such as fair competition and effective mechanisms of political accountability. The central hypothesis is that illiberal elites use the appeal of nationalism to do so, but that the success of this strategy depends on pre-democratic legacies. Where democracy once replaced nationalist-fascist dictatorships, greater skepticism toward nationalist ideology can be expected today. In contrast, where democracies replaced decidedly anti-nationalist, communist dictatorships, nationalist campaigns today can more easily convince pro-democracy voters. A module on all European democracies will be combined with case studies on Spain and Poland, as well as East and West Germany.