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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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16. The Role of the European Union in Building Democracy in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union (Cvete Koneska)

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Cvete Koneska

16.  The Role of the European Union in Building Democracy in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union

This chapter looks at the role of external actors in the process of building democracy across the former Communist states in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In particular the focus is on the role of the European Union, as the most influential external actor in this area over the past three decades. The chapter examines what worked and what did not work in European Union’s democracy-promotion efforts across the wider region. The evidence suggests two key reasons behind the less-successful-than-anticipated record of the European Union in democratization. The first is the disempowerment of local populations through the limited choices available during the process of EU accession. The second concerns the disillusionment of local populations and elites by the failure of EU membership to deliver economic prosperity and convergence with Western Europe.

Keywords: democratization, European Union, Eastern Europe, Former Soviet Union

Introduction

Democracy appears to be backsliding across Europe. After several decades of continued movement towards more democracy on the European continent, including the democratic transition of the South European regimes in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the big breakthrough for democracy in Europe with the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe in 1989, the tide seems to be reversing. The remaining nondemocratic countries on Europe’s periphery, such as Belarus, do not seem...

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