Region: Central and Eastern Europe

July 2018, Volume 29, Issue 3

Explaining Eastern Europe: Czech Democracy Under Pressure

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.

July 2018, Volume 29, Issue 3

Explaining Eastern Europe: “Soft Decisionism” in Bulgaria

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.

April 2018, Volume 29, Issue 2

Macedonia: A New Beginning?

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. 

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

The Three Regions of the Old Soviet Bloc

Today, there are three parts of the old Soviet bloc—one is democratic, another is wholly authoritarian, and a third “intermediate” group is caught between two worlds. This last should be the main focus of Western assistance.

July 2016, Volume 27, Issue 3

The Assault on Postcommunist Courts

A number of countries in East-Central Europe are facing a grave crisis of constitutional democracy. As their governments seek to undermine the institutional limits on their power, constitutional courts have become a central target.

July 2015, Volume 26, Issue 3

Hungary’s U-Turn: Retreating from Democracy

The great achievements of Hungary’s 1989–90 transition—including democracy, rule of law, market-oriented reform, and pluralism in intellectual life—are being dismantled as the world looks the other way.

January 2015, Volume 26, Issue 1

Michnik’s Homage to Havel

A review of An Uncanny Era: Conversations Between Václav Havel and Adam Michnik, translated and edited by Elzbieta Matynia.

July 2014, Volume 25, Issue 3

The Maidan and Beyond: The Russia Factor

The regime of Vladimir Putin has been a key driver of the crisis in Ukraine. Under challenge at home for several years now, it turned to Ukraine in part to firm up its own grip on power in Russia.

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January 2014, Volume 25, Issue 1

The Legacies of 1989: Bulgaria’s Year of Civic Anger

In 2013, Bulgaria’s historically passive citizenry exploded in outrage over soaring energy bills and shady elite actions. What does Bulgaria’s year of protest tell us about how civic anger is generated and when it becomes a transformative political resource?

July 2012, Volume 23, Issue 3

Putinism Under Siege: Can There Be a Color Revolution?

The recent protests in Russia raise the question of whether the Putin regime could fall to a “color” or electoral revolution like those that have ousted other autocratic regimes in postcommunist Europe and Eurasia over the past decade and a half. 

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

How Poland Promotes Democracy

Among a new generation of international democracy promoters—often former recipients of democracy assistance themselves—Poland stands out. Its efforts, though mostly in its own neighborhood, show the importance of combining direct assistance with quiet diplomacy.

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October 2011, Volume 22, Issue 4

Comparing the Arab Revolts: The Lessons of 1989

The Arab events of 2011 may have some similarities to the wave of popular upheavals against authoritarianism that swept the Soviet bloc starting in 1989, but the differences are much more fundamental.

October 2011, Volume 22, Issue 4

Documents on Democracy: October 2011

Excerpts from a statement issued by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and 35 other Egyptian human-rights organizations condemning the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' campaign against the country's civil society organizations and human-rights groups. Excerpt from a statement by two top EU officials on the August 5 arrest of former Ukrainian prime…

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April 2011, Volume 22, Issue 2

Paradoxes of the New Authoritarianism

Why are the unfree regimes of the former Soviet world proving so durable? A lack of ideology and—perhaps surprisingly—a degree of openness are proving to be not so much problems for authoritarianism as bulwarks of it.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Ukraine: The Uses of Divided Power

The 2010 presidential election shows that Ukraine is both a surprisingly stable electoral democracy and a disturbingly corrupt one. The corruption, moreover, may have a lot to do with the stability.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Ukraine: The Role of Regionalism

Although Ukraine’s regional divisions are often thought to be detrimental to state-building and democratization, they have in fact been a source of strength and helped to prevent tilts to the political extremes.

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Twenty Years of Postcommunism: In Search of A New Model

In the twenty years since 1989, acute excitement over democratic transition and consolidation gave way to symptoms of “democracy fatigue” and elite exhaustion; successful economic transition away from state socialism fell victim to a crisis of the free-market model; and the EU’s transformative power has reached its geopolitical limits. The nations of Central and Eastern…

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Twenty Years of Postcommunism: Citizenship Restored

The 1989 revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe were the triumph of civic dignity over Leninism. The first decade of postcommunism saw the project of an open society strongly challenged by ethnocratic temptations. The most important new idea brought about by the revolutions of 1989 was the rethinking and the restoration of citizenship.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Kosovo: Independence and Tutelage

In February 2008, Kosovo broke away from Serbia and declared its independence. But to what extent is it making progress toward its goals of sovereignty and democracy?

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July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

The Real Causes of the Color Revolutions

The “color revolutions” in the postcommunist countries cannot be attributed to diffusion alone. Structural factors offer a better explanation of why such revolutions have succeeded in some countries and not in others.

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

A New Look at Ethnicity and Democratization

Conventional scholarly wisdom holds that ethnic diversity within a given society generally dims democracy’s prospects. Careful reflection on the experience of many post-Soviet states, however, suggests that this need not be so.

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

The Orange Revolution and Beyond

Ukraine gained independence in 1991, but its people gained their freedom only in 2004 with the Orange Revolution—an uprising of the human spirit in which Ukrainians joined together to gain a voice in their future.

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April 2007, Volume 18, Issue 2

Another Russia? After the Leviathan

There is a future for democracy in Russia, but it may have to wait until the people begin to feel the problems created by the current system.

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January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

Revolution Reconsidered

The recent "color revolutions" in the former Soviet Union should lead us to reassess the idea of revolution and also to consider the weaknesses of the concept of "democratic transition.