‘A Region Torn and Fragmented?’ Authoritarian and democratic dynamics in Central Europe


The post-1989 transformation of Central Europe was often seen as the pinnacle of the Third Wave of Democratization. Now, the region is torn and fragmented along different democratic and illiberal-authoritarian development paths, according to the German Marshall Fund:

The likes of Czechia, Slovenia, and the Baltic States demonstrate remarkable resilience to the challengers of liberal democracy, as the latest Nations in Transit report from Freedom House shows. Hungary and Poland are unmistakably moving in an authoritarian direction. Meanwhile, Bulgaria and Slovakia regularly swing between illiberal and liberal democratic periods. While, with the exception of Hungary, Central European countries emphasize their unity in face of Russia’s war against Ukraine, their domestic developments clearly point in the direction of regional fragmentation.

A forthcoming panel with experts Petra Guasti, Zsuzsanna Vegh, Mike Smeltzer and Roman Hlatky will explore the dynamics of internal and external threats to liberal democracy in Central Europe, and attempt to identify potential entry points for strengthening democratic resilience across the region. For more information, please contact Monika Dlugosch (MDlugosch@gmfus.org).


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