Is East-Central Europe Backsliding? Economic Woes and Political Disaffection

Issue Date October 2007
Volume 18
Issue 4
Page Numbers 40-46
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What explains the recent rise of radical voices—riots, mass demonstrations, the radicalization of centrist parties, and the popularity of illiberal extremist forces—in many East European EU-member states? Under the pressure of compliance with the Maastricht convergence criteria governments implement painful welfare state reforms. Pro-reform elite and middle class groups mobilize around radical neoliberal agendas, while their radical illiberal opponents respond with nationalist, ethnic, xenophobic, and anticommunist fundamentalist programs. In contrast, large groups of citizens have become dissatisfied with democracy and have chosen to refrain from participation in newly established democratic institutions.