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
Havlík, Vlastimil. “Technocratic populism and political illiberalism in central Europe.” Problems of Post-Communism 66, no. 6 (2019): 369-384.
Democratic backsliding, a term commonly used to describe the recent changes in politics in Central and Eastern Europe, is most profoundly related to the emergence and electoral success of populist political actors in the region. While the established literature has been focused almost exclusively on Hungary and Poland, which are the most visible examples of recent illiberal turns in Central and Eastern Europe driven by national-conservative populists, the main aim of this paper is to focus on the populism of ANO in the Czech Republic. Based on a mixed-method content analysis, the main argument of the paper is that the rise of centrist technocratic populism (perhaps less radical at first glance) ends the era of the Czech Republic’s exceptionalism in Central Europe in terms of its resistance to populist illiberal challenges. In other words, the analysis shows that populism combined with technocracy (and not necessarily with more radical ideologies such as nativism) presents a vision of a regime alternative to the dominant liberal democratic paradigm. This alternative is based on a denial of political pluralism, anti-partyism, resistance to constitutionalism, and the embrace of majoritarianism.