Democracy in Decline in Central and Eastern Europe

Central European News Briefs

Democratic and market institutions have regressed in 13 out of 17 Central and Eastern European countries in recent years, according to a new report by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German social research institute.

Surveying 128 developing and emerging countries between 2009 and 2011, the institute’s Transformation Index 2012 highlights Eastern Europe and Latin America as the regions with the most noticeable decline in the quality of democracy, rule of law, social market institutions, and political management.

In the region, Hungary and the Ukraine registered the greatest overall decline, but electoral fraud increased in all Balkan states with the exception of Serbia, while press freedom deteriorated in Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovakia.

The report links the lapse in political and economic standards to the rise of populist leaders in times of crisis – notably Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán – but also highlights the successful crisis management of Poland’s liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk, as well as the Czech Republic’s conservative Prime Minister Petr Nečas.

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