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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

Central and Eastern Europe after Enlargement: Successes and Failures

Zdenka Mansfeldová
Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Petra Guasti
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Zdenka Mansfeldová
Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

The main aim of the paper is to assess democracy in the Central and Eastern Europe after the EU accession from two perspectives citizens’ (the citizen’s’ satisfaction with and perception of democracy using public opinion data) and society (quality of democracy according to the international comparative methodologies (BTI and WGI). This method allows the authors to analyze the ongoing effects of Europeanization on democratic processes in the CEE in terms of comparative and theoretically grounded criteria while at the same time contextualizing the overall domestic development within the setting of Central and East Europe.

The main emphasis is placed on the basic aspects of the quality of democracy in the CEE region after the EU accession and on its strengths and weaknesses. Due to active/passive leverage of the EU and varying degree of the compliance pressure, countries such as the Czech Republic has developed a stable political system and institutions as well as a clear separation of the individual institutions. However, they also seem to still be struggling to strengthen the relationship between the top levels of governance and the citizens as and citizens are becoming more and more disenchanted with the outcome. This fact can potentially endanger the legitimacy of the entire democratic order.

The broad principle of the metaphorical ”Return to Europe” was a guiding torch of the democratic change, while the prospect of joining the European Union was the instigator of democratic transition and consolidation. In practice, this meant that all CEE countries were eager to become members of international institutions and organizations. Yet the process of these complex changes was not linear or unidirectional in the least. Progress towards democracy might, and in CEE in some cases did, come to a standstill or even reverse its direction.
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