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Illiberal and authoritarian tendencies in Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe

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Edited By Florian Bieber, Magdalena Solska and Dane Taleski

Even though the democratic decline has been deemed a global phenomenon, the question of how it manifests itself in the postcommunist world and how it varies across different regions with divergent levels of democratic consolidation has not been sufficiently addressed yet. This book tries to fill the gap and examines the causes and nature of the deteriorating quality of democracy in Central Europe as well as the reversal or stagnation of democratization processes in Southeastern and Eastern Europe. The political elite plays a key role in initiating legislative changes that may lead to democratic backsliding. Its constant commitment to the rule of law and to the practice of selfrestraint in securing the independence of judiciary and the rights of political opposition appears hence indispensable for sustainable liberal democracy.
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Central Europe: Regional Overview (Magdalena Solska)

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Magdalena Solska

Central Europe: Regional Overview

The Nations in Transit report of Freedom House (NIT) in 20171 ranked Hungary at the lowest position among Central European countries and its performance deteriorated according to every possible criterion during the rule of Alliance of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz) and its minor coalition partner, the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP). The country is no longer classified as a consolidated democracy but as a semiconsolidated democracy, together with Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia. According to the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) of 2018, Hungary is the only Visegrad country classified as a defective democracy with the lowest score among the EU member states.2 Both indices interpret the policy changes in Hungary as leading to democratic breakdown and an outright system change.

With the governing parties’ ever-growing media dominance, an increasingly uneven political playing field, and the misuse of public resources for political and private purposes, Hungary’s political system inches further away from constitutional and liberal democracies and closer toward hybrid regimes in the region.3

Hungary also has the longest ruling right-wing populist government. The constitutional majority of parliamentary seats achieved in 2010 allowed the coalition to change the constitution at will. As mentioned by Dániel Hegedűs in the chapter on Hungary, the so-called “fourth amendment” to Hungary’s Fundamental Law introduced in 2013 contained a number of questionable restrictions on freedom of speech, the scope of the Constitutional Court’s power to review...

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