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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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6. Pioneering Illiberal State Building in the European Union: The Case of Hungary (Dániel Hegedűs)

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Dániel Hegedűs

6.  Pioneering Illiberal State Building in the European Union: The Case of Hungary

Hungary, as the primary model of illiberalism and authoritarian trends in Europe, does not represent a strange and unique scenario. The key components enabling democratic backsliding, like the collapse of progressive political parties due to scandals and poor governance performance, an unfavourable external economic environment, and a majoritarian electoral system, are far from being exceptional. By providing an overview of the main characteristics of the post-2010 illiberal constitutional engineering process, the supply and demand side of populism in Hungary, as well as the implications of domestic changes for Hungarian foreign policy, this chapter argues that the three constitutive aspects of the democratic backsliding in Hungary are elite failure, institutional deficits, and the supply-side-driven authoritarianization strategy of an illiberal elite, which is tolerated rather than supported by the Hungarian electorate.

Keywords: authoritarianization, constitutional engineering, democratic backsliding, Hungary, illiberalism

Liberal democracies appear to be reeling from the rise of illiberal populism throughout Europe. Contrary to the widespread perception, the triumphant return of authoritarian tendencies and values seems to be uniting the western and eastern parts of the Old Continent, rather than dividing them. The deep political dynamics undermining the liberal consensus, and especially the institutions of liberal democracy, ruling Western societies for many decades and their East-Central-European counterparts since 1989–1990, at first glance seem to be identical. The political cleavage between “old...

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