The end of the Cold War saw a new wave of democratization take hold in Europe and along its eastern fringe, promising to bring with it good governance and rule of law to countries that had precious little previous experience with those ideals.
While this period saw the European Union admit a record number of new members and begin membership or partnership talks with other key countries, the promise of democratization has been replaced in some countries by the emergence of anti-democratic neo-authoritarianism and neo-populism. Accompanied in many places by rising right-wing nationalism, this rollback of democratization is deeply worrying and has profound implications for other countries in Europe and beyond.
In this project, journalist Yigal Schleifer looks at Hungary, Ukraine and Turkey, three countries that in their own way each tell an important story about democratization’s struggle and retreat in Europe. In Hungary, he focuses on the rise of the neo-fascist Jobbik party and the government’s efforts to undercut that rise by adopting large parts of its platform to tell the story of a country that, while an EU member since 2010, has since gone into serious democratic decline. In Ukraine, Schleifer uses the rise of nationalist right wing groups that are now part of the new government in Kiev as lens through which to examine the challenges facing that country’s efforts to move beyond the autocratic rule of its recently ousted leader. And in Turkey, he explores that country’s declining press freedom and the larger story of its stalled democratization.