About this event

The years when democracy used to be the only game in town in Central Europe are over. Executive aggrandizement, the demolishing of liberal constitutionalism and the rule of law, populism, nationalism, illiberalism, and culture wars have challenged and often successfully undermined democratic institutions and the political culture underpinning liberal democracy in the region.

The post-1989 transformation of Central Europe was often seen as the pinnacle of the Third Wave of Democratization. Now, the region is torn and fragmented along different democratic and illiberal-authoritarian development paths. The likes of Czechia, Slovenia, and the Baltic States demonstrate remarkable resilience to the challengers of liberal democracy, as the latest Nations in Transit report of Freedom House shows. Hungary and Poland are unmistakably moving in an authoritarian direction. Meanwhile, Bulgaria and Slovakia regularly swing between illiberal and liberal democratic periods. In the whole region, elections are increasingly plebiscites about strongmen and their illiberal political offers. While, with the exception of Hungary, Central European countries emphasize their unity in face of Russia’s war against Ukraine, their domestic developments clearly point in the direction of regional fragmentation.

This panel will explore the dynamics of internal and external threats to liberal democracy in Central Europe, and their interplay in the context of the war. It will attempt to identify potential entry points for strengthening democratic resilience across the region, including lessons learned from already closed autocracies.

For more information, please contact Monika Dlugosch ([email protected]).

This event takes place in cooperation with the Nations in Transit program of Freedom House in the framework of the “AUTHLIB – Neo-authoritarianisms in Europe and the Liberal Democratic Response” project funded by the European Union and UK Research and Innovation. Views and opinions expressed however do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or UK Research and Innovation. Neither the European Union nor UK Research and Innovation can be held responsible for them.

To learn more about the AUTHLIB project, visit its website here. You can sign up for updates about the project here.

The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a nonpartisan policy organization committed to the idea that the United States and Europe are stronger together.

Event Speakers

Zsuzsanna Végh

Program Officer

Zsuzsanna Végh is a program officer at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.Her analytical focus is on Central and Eastern Europe, especially the foreign and EU policies of the Visegrád countries, the state of democrac...