The Introduction gives a short summary of the book and considers East-Central Europe, as a historical and actual region, and its common basic features. In the 1990s the democratization cum Europeanization scenario appeared as an easy-dream narrative, but by the end of the 2010s the democratic order had collapsed in ECE. My book Emerging Democracies in East Central Europe and the Balkans (Edward Elgar Publishing, 1998) was conceived in an optimistic mood, and after two decades there is a need to reconsider ECE developments. The main message is that historically Central Europe has moved in cycles of Westernization and Easternization, or repeated modernization processes, and has recently joined the EU but failed in the catching-up process. The key question is why this ‘democracy from above’ finally collapsed in ECE in the 2010s and how ‘democratization from below’, or redemocratization, can be set in motion.
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