This book seeks to inject fresh thinking into the debate on democratic deterioration in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), viewing ‘democratic backsliding’ through the prism of a range of cases beyond Hungary and Poland, to redress the imbalance in current scholarship.
Over the past decade a consensus has emerged that democracy in CEE is sharply deteriorating, perhaps even ‘backsliding’ into new forms of authoritarianism. Debate has, however, so far focused disproportionately on the two most dramatic and surprising cases: Hungary and Poland. This book reflects on the ‘backsliding’ debate through the experience of CEE countries such as the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Latvia, and Estonia; as well as neighbouring post-communist regions such as the Western Balkans and former Soviet Union (cases such as Moldova and Ukraine), whose patterns of failing or partial democratisation may be newly instructive for analysing the development of CEE. Contributors present less frequently considered perspectives on ‘democratic backsliding’ in the CEE region, such as the role of oligarchisation and wealth concentration; the potential of ethnographical approaches to democracy evaluation; the trade-offs between democratic quality and democratic stability; and the long-term interplay between social movements, state-building, and democratisation.
This book was originally published as a special issue of East European Politics.
Table of Contents
1. Rethinking "democratic backsliding" in Central and Eastern Europe – looking beyond Hungary and Poland
Licia Cianetti, James Dawson and Seán Hanley
2. The uncertain road to sustainable democracy: elite coalitions, citizen protests and the prospects of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe
Antoaneta L. Dimitrova
3. Understanding the illiberal turn: democratic backsliding in the Czech Republic
Seán Hanley and Milada Anna Vachudova
4. "Everyday Democracy": an ethnographic methodology for the evaluation of (de-) democratisation
5. Consolidated technocratic and ethnic hollowness, but no backsliding: reassessing Europeanisation in Estonia and Latvia
6. Patterns of competitive authoritarianism in the Western Balkans
7. Perpetually "partly free": lessons from post-soviet hybrid regimes on backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe
Licia Cianetti is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. She is interested in how democracy works in ethno-culturally divided societies. She is working on the project "What happened to the multicultural city? Effects of nativism and austerity", funded by the Leverhulme Trust. She is the author of The Quality of Divided Democracies: Minority Inclusion, Exclusion and Representation in the New Europe (2019).
James Dawson is a Lecturer in Politics at Coventry University, UK. His research has focused on the challenges of democratisation in Central and Eastern Europe, with particular emphasis on the clash between liberal and ethnic nationalist ideas. His book Cultures of Democracy in Serbia and Bulgaria: How Ideas Shape Publics (2014) was awarded the BASEES George Blazyca Prize.
Seán Hanley is Associate Professor in Comparative Central and Eastern Europe Politics at UCL, UK. His published research covers topics such as party government and its alternatives, the rise of anti-establishment parties, and democratic backsliding in Central Europe. He has a special interest in Czech politics and is author of The New Right in the New Europe: Czech Transformation and Right-Wing Politics, 1989–2006 (2007).