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Declining Democracy in East-Central Europe

The Divide in the EU and Emerging Hard Populism

Attila Ágh

The dramatic decline of democracy in East-Central Europe has attracted great interest world-wide. Going beyond the narrow spectrum of the extensive literature on this topic, this book offers a comprehensive analysis of ECE region – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – from systemic change in 1989 to 2019 to explain the reasons of the collapse of ECE democratic systems in the 2010s.
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Chapter 2: Socio-economic transition and social disintegration

Attila Ágh


This chapter begins the presentation of the special conceptual framework of the ECE region by arguing that historically ECE society had a dual face of Western and Eastern features, with a strong state and weak civil society. The point of departure for the new democracies was a simultaneous transition of legal-political, economic and social transformations, having different time horizons and producing deep conflicts. Originally it was supposed that these transitions would support each other, but the triple crisis – three consecutive crisis periods, consisting of transition crisis (1990s), EU accession crisis (2000s) and global crisis (2010s) – generated an increasing social frustration and democratic malaise in the ECE populations. The failure of the catching-up process has become evident since the global crisis, and it has led to a serious credibility crisis, since the controversial socio-economic development resulted in the weak ‘democratization from above’ described in Chapter 3.

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