Is the challenge of building and consolidating democracy under postcommunist conditions unique, or can one apply lessons learned from other new democracies? The essays collected in this volume explore these questions, while tracing how the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have fared in the decade following the fall of communism.
Bulgaria continues to enjoy free and fair elections, but over the last decade its politics has come to be dominated by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who practices a brand of discretionary rule that puts his own priorities above any commitment to legal or constitutional norms.
The political turmoil following a journalist’s murder in Slovakia has revealed serious dangers to the country’s democratic institutions.
Recent electoral victories by a pro-Russian president and a populist prime minister point to an antiestablishment wave in the Czech Republic. Yet strong checks and balances, EU ties, and a different outlook among younger voters may help to safeguard liberal democracy.
Viewed until recently as an exemplar of democratic transformation, Poland is increasingly seen as a leading case of democratic backsliding, thanks to a series of illiberal measures pushed through by the Law and Justice party.
Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party has used its two-thirds majority in parliament to change the constitution, erase checks and balances, and make
the electoral system even more majoritarian.
Thirty years ago in Central and Eastern Europe, belief in an open society and a sense of reasserted national and indeed European identity seemed to go hand-in-hand. But that was then.
For countries emerging from communism, the post-1989 imperative to “be like the West” has generated discontent and even a “return of the repressed,” as the region feels old nationalist stirrings and new demographic pressures.
In Romania today, as in Italy twenty years ago, the gradual politicization of anticorruption has come to shape the political scene.
This small Balkan country has been plagued with crises of identity both internal and external. But recent developments, including a democratic change of government via the ballot box, have created an opportunity to find a better path.