Photo: “Visegrad Group and Eastern Partnership meeting in Budapest 14“, by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Hue modified from the original
Bustikova, Lenka, and Petra Guasti. “The illiberal turn or swerve in Central Europe?.” Politics and Governance 5, no. 4 (2017): 166-176.
Scholars are coming to terms with the fact that something is rotten in the new democracies of Central Europe. The corrosion has multiple symptoms: declining trust in democratic institutions, emboldened uncivil society, the rise of oligarchs and populists as political leaders, assaults on an independent judiciary, the colonization of public administration by political proxies, increased political control over media, civic apathy, nationalistic contestation and Russian meddling. These processes signal that the liberal-democratic project in the so-called Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) has been either stalled, diverted or reversed. This article investigates the “illiberal turn” in the Visegrad Four (V4) countries. It develops an analytical distinction between illiberal “turns” and “swerves”, with the former representing more permanent political changes, and offers evidence that Hungary is the only country in the V4 at the brink of a decisive illiberal turn.