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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 5: The failure of catching up and the credibility crisis in ECE

Attila Ágh

Extract

The global crisis has resulted in the complete failure of the ‘convergence dream’ for ECE in the EU. Although some quantitative catching up has taken place in GDP terms, there has been no qualitative catching up to the core in terms of the new, innovation-driven economy and global competitiveness. There has been no transition from the GDP-based ‘welfare’ approach to the ‘well-being’ universe of the West either. Owing to the loss of economic, social and legal-political security and the exclusion of ECE populations from the results of economic growth, people have lost trust in the political elite and political institutions. In this process of ‘desecuritization’, unhappy, low-trust societies have emerged in ECE, with substantial problems of disinvestment in human and social capital. Societal frustration has exploded into the deep credibility crisis of the Europeanization and democratization scenario.

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