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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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4. Populist, Illiberal and Authoritarian Challenges to Democracy in Slovakia (Grigorij Mesežnikov)

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Grigorij Mesežnikov

4.  Populist, Illiberal and Authoritarian Challenges to Democracy in Slovakia

Slovakia’s experience demonstrates the nonlinearity of the process of postcommunist transformation, which has consisted of democratic advances and backsliding. While movement forwards, towards the liberal democratic order, has generally prevailed over regressing tendencies, the risk of illiberalism has not disappeared and nowadays it stems from the intensified activities of the right-wing extremist party, L’SNS, which succeeded in entering the parliament in the 2016 elections. This chapter deals with the factors enabling the nonliberal politics to persist, such as specific value orientations and political culture inherited from the past, a lack of trust in representative democracy, value-related division within political elites, a high degree of personalization of politics, etc. The will to join the European Union, however, boosted the pro-democratic political parties in their efforts to oust the authoritarian forces from power in 1998. European Union accession in 2004 created additional safeguards for sustainability of democratic regime.

Keywords: authoritarian tendencies, European integration, “hard” and “soft” populism, nationalism, political elites, political parties, right-wing extremism, Slovakia

Introduction

According to the Freedom in the World 2017 report released by Freedom House, “in 2016, populist and nationalist political forces made astonishing gains in democratic states” (Puddington and Roylance, 2017). We have seen how radical nationalist and populist parties in Central European countries try to replace the narrative of successful liberal democratic reforms after the collapse of communism by...

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