Rule of Law and the Rise of Populism: A Case Study of Post-acc ession Bulgaria  Cover Image
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Rule of Law and the Rise of Populism: A Case Study of Post-acc ession Bulgaria
Rule of Law and the Rise of Populism: A Case Study of Post-acc ession Bulgaria

Author(s): Daniel Smilov
Subject(s): Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence
Published by: Centre for Advanced Study Sofia (CAS)

Summary/Abstract: The liberal parties, which were the main political actors during the transition period in Eastern Europe, are now facing increasingly strong competition from a variety of populist political players in the guise of nationalists, reformed communists and conservative traditionalists. Over the last several years, elections in at least five countries in the region – all of which are consolidated democracies – have demonstrated that the political parties standing behind the liberal consensus of the transition period – i.e market economy, protection of human rights, pro-western orientation in foreign affairs – are no longer in a dominant or even comfortable position. In Slovakia, Dzurinda’s government, which was the author of very successful and far-reaching market reforms, was replaced by a nationalist-socialist coalition. In Poland, until the autumn of 2008, a coalition of nationalists and conservatives had the control over the most important centres of power in the country, trumpeting the need for a new “fourth republic”, which would presumably part with some of the key liberal commitments of the last fifteen years. Since then, although in retreat, the political forces behind the Kaczynski brothers are still a major political actor in the country. In Hungary, the socialists and their liberal partners still manage to preserve power, but only in the face of extreme loss of popularity, rising xenophobic and anti-Semitic parties, and almost certain defeat in the upcoming parliamentary elections at the hands of an ever-more nationalist centre-right opponents. The poor state of the economy, the populist electoral strategies of both the ruling coalition and the flamboyant opposition, ultimately led to massive street protests and violence – a regular feature of Hungarian politics since 2006. The most important victim of these processes seems to be the public confidence in liberal democracy.

  • Issue Year: 2011
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 1-49
  • Page Count: 49
  • Language: English