CREEES roundtable discussion: "Democracy in 'New Europe': Reversed Consolidation?"
Free and open to the public
Grigore Pop-Eleches (Princeton)
Milada Vachudova (UNC Chapel Hill)
Jason Wittenberg (UC Berkeley)
Patricia Young (Stanford)
Kathryn Stoner (Stanford)
Until recently, democracies in new European Union members and aspirants were believed to be on their way to consolidation. Nonetheless, the recent financial crisis has had important political implications, with renewed fears of instability and even reversal of democratic gains. In Hungary, the Fidesz government has changed the Constitution and the electoral system, and has fired more than 10,000 government employees amid complaints of political discrimination. In Romania, austerity measures have led to in-fighting between the president and the parliament-backed prime minister, resulting in a failed attempt to impeach the president, and EU concerns over government attacks on the independence of the Constitutional Court. Moreover, the December 9, 2012, Romanian elections have dealt a decisive victory to the prime minister¹s Social Liberal Union, which will likely make co-habitation with the current president crisis-prone. Bulgaria is another recently admitted EU member wherein concerns over the rule of law negatively affected democratic performance, while Serbia has recently elected a nationalist government with connections to the Milosevic regime. These developments raise doubts over the sustainability of New Europe¹s democratic gains, and warrant a reassessment of the consolidation of these democracies.