The Deconsolidation of Democracy in East‑Central Europe: The New World Order and the EU’s Geopolitical Crisis

Attila Ágh 1 , 2 , 3
  • 1 Political Science Department at the Budapest Corvinus University Hungary
  • 2 Research Centre “Together for Europe” Hungary
  • 3 Central European Political Science Association (CEPSA), Hungary

Abstract

In recent decades, the most remarkable feature of East-Central European (ECE) states has been their engagement in a deconsolidation process that necessitates the reconceptualising of European Studies and the theory of democracy. In the early ’90s, during the “revolution of high expectations,” consolidation was the key term in the conceptual framework of the transitology paradigm, but this approach was questioned increasingly in the 2000s and rejected in the 2010s. In its place, deconsolidation was introduced as one of a wide array of similar terms referring to the decline, backsliding or regression of democracy and later as one of a whole “other” family of opposite terms like (semi-)authoritarian system and competitive/elected autocracy. Indeed, rather than a transition to democracy, a tendency to transition to authoritarian rule has been observed in the ECE states in general and in Poland and Hungary in particular. In the last quarter century, the twin terms of Europeanisation and democratisation, which denote normative approaches, have been the main conceptual pillars of analyses of the ECE states. It turns out, however, that the opposite processes of de-Europeanisation and de-democratisation can now also be observed in these countries.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Aniol, Wlodzimierz (2015): A Social Deficit: Poland in the Face of Developmental Challenges in the 2010s. Problems of Social Policy (Warsaw) 31 (4): 39-56.

  • Ágh, Attila (2015a): De-Europeanization and de-Democratization trends in ECE: From the Potemkin democracy to the elected autocracy in Hungary. Journal of Comparative Politics 8 (2): 4-26.

  • Ágh, Attila (2015b): The Triple Crisis in the New Member States: The historical trajectory of NMS-8 in the Past Quarter Century. Southeastern Europe 39 (3): 294-317.

  • Ágh, Attila (2015c): Radical party system changes in five East-Central European states: Eurosceptic and populist parties on the move in the 2010s. Baltic Journal of Political Science 4 (4): 23-48.

  • Ágh, Attila (2016a) “The increasing core-periphery divide and the new member states: Diverging from the European Union’s mainstream developments,”117-129, in Magone et al., eds.: Core-periphery Relations in the European Union, London and New York: Routledge, 332.

  • Ágh, Attila (2016b): The ‘securitization’ of the EaP policy in the EU: The External Europeanization in the Wider Europe. Journal of Comparative Politics 9 (1): 36-58.

  • Ágh, Attila (2016c): Core-Periphery divides in the EU transformation crisis: The regional challenge of the Visegrad Four. Security Dimensions of Central and Eastern Europe, Yearbook of the Institute of East-Central Europe (Warsaw), 14 (1): 11-25.

  • Balfour, Rosa - Stratulat, Corina (2012): The enlargement of the European Union, EPC Discussion Paper, 10 December, http://www.epc.eu/documents/uploads/pub_3176_enlargement_of_the_eu.pdf (12 December 2016).

  • Banac, Ivo (2014): Twenty-Five Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. East European Politics and Societies and Cultures, Special Issue on the Post-1989 Developments in the Region, 28 (2): 653-657.

  • Bogaards, Matthijs (2009): How to classify hybrid regimes? Defective democracy and electoral authoritarianism. Democratization, 16 (2): 399-423.

  • Bertelsmann Foundation (BF) (2015a): Next Generation Democracy, www.nextgenerationdemocracy.org and http://www.bti-project.org/next-generation-democracy (12 December 2016).

  • Bertelsmann Foundation (BF) (2015b): Social Justice in the EU - Report 2015, Social Inclusion Monitor Europe (SIM), http://www.social-inclusion-monitor.eu/social-justice-index/ (12 December 2016).

  • Bertelsmann Foundation (BF) (2015c): Social Policy Reforms in the EU: A Cross-national Comparison, Social Inclusion Monitor Europe (SIM) - Reform Barometer, http://www.social-inclusion-monitor.eu/reform-barometer/ (12 December 2016).

  • Bertelsmann Foundation (BF), BTI (2016a) Hungary country report, http://www.bti-project.org/en/reports/country-reports/country-reports/itc/HUN/ (12 December 2016).

  • Bertelsmann Foundation (BF), BTI (2016b) Poland country report, https://www.bti-project.org/fileadmin/files/BTI/Downloads/Reports/2016/pdf/BTI_2016_Poland.pdf (12 December 2016).

  • Biscop, Sven (2015): Global and Operational: A New Strategy for EU Foreign and Security Strategy, Egmont Institute, http://www.egmontinstitute.be/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/iaiwp1527-def.pdf (12 December 2016).

  • Cassani, Andrea (2014): Hybrid what? Partial consensus and persistent divergences in the analysis of hybrid regimes, International Political Science Review 35 (5): 542-558.

  • Chadwick, Vince (2016): “Putin-like?” Not us, say Poland and Hungary in response to Bill Clinton. Politico, 17 May, http://www.politico.eu/article/us-democracy-putin-like-not-us-say-poland-and-hungary-in-response-to-bill-clinton/ (12 December 2016).

  • Coman, Ramona - Tomini, Luca (2014): A Comparative Perspective on the State of Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. Europe-Asia Studies 66 (6): 853-858

  • Coppedge, Michael et al. (2011): Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy: A New Approach. Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 9, No. 2, June, http://people.bu.edu/jgerring/documents/MeasuringDemocracy.pdf.

  • Dahrendorf, Ralf (1990) Reflections on the Revolutions in Europe, Transaction Books, p. 178

  • Darvas, Zsolt (2014): The convergence dream 25 years on, http://www.bruegel.org/nc/blog/detail/article/1528-the-convergence-dream-25-years-on/ (12 December 2016).

  • Denk, Thomas - Silander, Daniel (2012): Problems in Paradise? Challenges to future democratization in democratic states. International Political Science Review, 33 (1): 25-40.

  • Dzihic, Vedran (2014): Grey zones between democracy and authoritarianism: Re-thinking the current state of democracy in Eastern and South Eastern Europe, in Wiersma et al., eds. (2014) Problems of Representative Democracy in Europe, Amsterdam: Foundation for European Progressive Studies: 21-32.

  • European Commission (EU) (2014a): A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law, Brussels, 11. 3. 2014, COM(2014) 158 final.

  • European Commission (EC) (with Transparency International) (2014b): EU Anti-Corruption Report, Brussels, 3. 2. 2014, COM(2014) 38 final, http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/e-library/documents/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/corruption/docs/acr_2014_en.pdf.

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) (2015): Democracy Index 2014, http://www.eiu.com/public/thankyou_download.aspx?activity=download&campaignid=Democracy0115.

  • European Policy Centre (2016) (EPC): Europe’s Troublemakers: The Populist Challenge to Foreign Policy, February 2016, p. 59, http://www.epc.eu/documents/uploads/pub_6377_europe_s_troublemakers.pdf.

  • Epstein, Rachel - Jacoby, Wade (2014): Eastern Enlargement Ten Years On: Transcending the East-West Divide? Journal of Common Market Studies, 52 (1) special issue: Eastern Enlargement Ten Years On: 1-16

  • Euractiv (2014): Brussels lays out plans to counter ‘systemic threats’ to EU rule of law, 12 March, http://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/brussels-lays-out-plans-to-counter-systemic-threats-to-eu-rule-of-law/.

  • Freedom House (FH) (2016a): Nations in Transit 2016, https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FH_NIT2016_Final_FWeb.pdf (12 December 2016).

  • Freedom House (FH) (2016b): Freedom in the World 2016, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2016 (12 December 2016).

  • Freedom House, Nations in Transit (2016c): Hungary, https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/2016/hungary (12 December 2016).

  • Freedom House, Nations in Transit (2016d): Poland, https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/2016/poland (12 December 2016).

  • International Labor Organization (2016): Crisis has aggravated long-term erosion of European middle class, http://www.ilo.org/brussels/press/press-releases/WCMS_455743/lang--en/index.htm (12 December 2016).

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) (2014a): Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, Regional Economic Issues Update, October, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/reo/2014/eur/eng/pdf/erei1014.pdf (12 December 2016).

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) (2014b): 25 Years of Transition, Post-Communist Europe and the IMF, Regional Economic Issues, Special Report, October, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/reo/2014/eur/eng/pdf/erei_sr_102414.pdf (12 December 2016).

  • International Monetary Fund (2016): Regional Economic Issues: Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, May, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/reo/2016/eur/eng/pdf/rei0516.pdf (12 December 2016).

  • Innes, Abby (2014): The Political Economy of State Capture in Central Europe. Journal of Common Market Studies, 52 (1), special issue “Eastern Enlargement Ten Years On: 88-104

  • Juncker, Jean-Claude (2016): Norbert Schmelzer lecture on 3 March, http://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/news/2016/03/five-ll.m-students-attended-the-2016-norbert-schmelzer-lecture-given-by-commission-president-jean-claude-juncker (12 December 2016).

  • Kagan, Robert (2015): The weight of geopolitics. Journal of Democracy 26 (1), special issue: Is Democracy in Decline?: 21-31.

  • Köllner, Patrick - Kailitz, Steffen, eds. (2013) Democratization 20 (1), Special Issue Unpacking Autocracies: Explaining Similarity and Difference: 178.

  • Kucharczyk, Jacek - Meseznikov, Grigorij, eds. (2015) Diverging Voices, Converging Policies: The Visegrad States’ Reactions to the Russia-Ukraine Conflict, Prague and Warsaw: Heinrich Boll Stiftung, p. 216.

  • Lessenski, Marin, ed. (2014): The Gravity Effect: Findings of the European Catch-Up Index 2014, European Policies Initiative-Open Society Institute, December 2014, http://eupi.osi.bg/cgi-bin/e-cms/vis/vis.pl?s=001&p=0070&g.

  • Magone, Jose, Laffan, Brigid -Schweiger, Christian, eds. (2016): Core-periphery Relations in the European Union, London and New York: Routledge, 332.

  • Merkel, Wolfgang (2004): Embedded and Defective Democracies. Democratization 11 (5): 3358.

  • Merkel, Wolfgang (2008): Plausible Theory, Unexpected Results: The Rapid Democratic Consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe. International Politics and Society (2): 11-29

  • Moeller, Joergen - Skaaning, Svend-Erik (2013): Autocracies, democracies, and the violation of civil liberties, pp. 82-106, in Kollner, Patrick - Kailitz, Steffen, eds. Democratization 20 (1), Special issue: Unpacking Autocracies: Explaining Similarity and Difference, 178.

  • Nodia, Ghia (2014): The revenge of geopolitics. Journal of Democracy 25 (4): 140-150.

  • Noutcheva, Gergana (2016): Societal Empowerment and Europeanization: Revisiting the EU’s Impact on Democratization. Journal of Common Market Studies 54 (3): 691-708.

  • Offe, Claus (1991): Capitalism by Democratic Design? Democratic Theory facing the Triple Transition in East Central Europe. Social Research 38 (4): 863-881.

  • Offe, Claus and Pierre Adler (2004): Capitalism by Democratic Design? Democratic Theory facing the Triple Transition in East Central Europe. Social Research 71 (3): 501-528.

  • Orbán, Viktor (2014): The End of Liberal Democracy, Talk on 26 July, http://www.freehungary.hu/index.php/56-hirek/3123-full-text-of-hungary-pm-viktor-orban-scandalous-speech-at-the-xxv-balvanyos-free-summer-university-and-youth-camp (12 December 2016).

  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (2014): Hungary, Parliamentary Elections, 6 April, Final Report, http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/hungary/121098?download=true (12 December 2016).

  • Papadopoulos, Yannis (2013): Democracy in Crisis? Politics, Governance and Policy, Houndmills: Palgrave-Macmillan, 296.

  • Pappas, Takis (2014): Populist Democracies: Post-Authoritarian Greece and Post-Communist Hungary. Government and Opposition 49 (1): 1-25.

  • Przeworski, Adam (1995): Sustainable Democracy, Cambridge University Press, 156.

  • Rupnik, Jacques (2007): From Democracy Fatigue to Populist Backlash. Journal of Democracy 18 (4) special issue: Is East-Central Europe Backsliding?: 17-25.

  • Rupnik, Jacques (2012): Hungary’s Illiberal Turn: How Things Went Wrong. Journal of Democracy 23 (3): 132-137.

  • Rupnik, Jacques - Zielonka, Jan (2013): The State of Democracy 20 Years On: Domestic and External Factors. East European Politics and Societies 27 (3), special issue: The State of Democracy 20 Years On: 1-25.

  • Solana, Javier (2016): Hungary’s EU membership would be rejected today, Politico, 5 May, http://www.politico.eu/article/hungarys-eu-membership-would-be-rejected-today-former-nato-chief-javier-solana/ (12 December 2016).

  • The Economist (2016): Illiberal Central Europe: Big, bad Visegrad, 30 January, http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21689629-migration-crisis-has-given-unsettling-new-direction-old-alliance-big-bad-visegrad (12 December 2016).

  • Tomini, Luca (2014): Reassessing Democratic Consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe and the Role of the EU. Europe-Asia Studies 66 (6): 859-891.

  • Torő, Csaba, Butler, Eamonn - Gruber, Karoly (2014): Visegrad: The Evolving Pattern of Coordination and Partnership After EU Enlargement. Europe-Asia Studies 66 (3): 364-393, V4+ and V4+B3 formations.

  • Veugelers, Reinhilde (2016): The European Union’s growing innovation divide, Bruegel, Issue 8, April, http://bruegel.org/2016/04/the-european-unions-growing-innovation-divide/.

  • World Economic Forum (2012): The Europe 2020 Competitiveness Report: Building a More Competitive Europe, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/CSI/2012/Europe2020_Competitiveness_Report_2012.pdf (12 December 2016).

  • World Economic Forum (WEF) (2015) Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/gcr/2015-2016/Global_Competitiveness_Report_2015-2016.pdf(12 December 2016).

  • World Bank (2015) Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI), http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#reports (12 December 2016).

  • Wiersma, Jan Marius, Stetter, Ernst - Schublach, Ernst, eds. (2014) Problems of Representative Democracy in Europe, Amsterdam: Foundation for European Progressive Studies, p. 208.

OPEN ACCESS

Journal + Issues

Search