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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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13. Moldova: From Poster Child to Democratic Decay (Natalia Timuş)

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Natalia Timuş

13.  Moldova: From Poster Child to Democratic Decay

This study assesses the major factors and actors responsible for the democratic decay and the spread of illiberal and authoritarian forms of government in Moldova. Following an in-depth case study of Moldovan political and socio-economic developments, it identifies the context-specific domestic and external factors (Russian influence) and actors undermining democratic processes and institutions. The empirical findings reveal the illiberal practices and authoritarian tendencies and place the country among the “grey zone” regimes or hybrid regimes in the postcommunist space. The study provides rich empirical evidence of the various blends of formal democratic elements with illiberal authoritarian tendencies, identified since the early 1990s and until the present. The common features are the strong clientelistic power network, informal politics and patronage, violating the norms of liberal democracy and leading to bad leadership and bad governance.

Keywords: authoritarian, bad governance, bad leadership, democratic decay, hybrid regime, illiberal, Moldova

Introduction

Moldova, is one of the few post-Soviet countries that achieved democratic gains (although they are still fragile) without radical political transformations (such as revolution or coup d’état). Moreover, its geographical location contributed to a stronger European orientation and less direct Russian influence. But the implementation of democratic reforms was often focused on short-term benefits and strategic calculations of political actors. The elites appeared more concerned with electoral gains and governing power than with long-term democratic consolidation. As a result,...

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