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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 3: Political transition and the crisis of representative democracy

Attila Ágh


This chapter proves that the conventional terms and theories of international political science cannot be applied in ECE, since in the first stage of developments there was only an external democratization, with empty legal structures, and there was no internal democratization, with mass participation in the political institutions. The great historical achievement of democracy from above in macro-politics and the rule of law without genuine social and political participation resulted in the gradual emptying of democracy. The early success turned to failure with the decline of democracy, since the elitist democracy produced only fake consolidation and ultimately deconsolidation in the first two decades. The rising crony capitalism and increasing corruption in the hybrid neoliberal system generated weak governments and poor governance in ECE. By elaborating a new conceptual framework, this chapter characterizes the ECE parties and governments in the stage of soft populism.

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