Hloušek, Vít, and Petr Fiala. “The future of Europe and the role of Eastern Europe in its past, present, and future 2. A new critical juncture? Central Europe and the impact of European integration.” European Political Science (2020): 1-11.
This article discusses the extent to which it is possible to label European integration as a new critical juncture of politics in Central Europe by using four Central European countries of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia as the focus of our investigation. The article presents the historical critical junctures of Central European efforts to liberalise and democratise politics and to create liberal democratic political institutions: the Revolution of 1848, the emergence of independent states in 1918, the Sovietisation of Central Europe between 1945–48 and democratic transition after 1989. We argue that after 2004, when the Central European countries entered the European Union (EU), the claims related to the liberal democratic nature of the EU polity triggered nationalist and illiberal opposition. Therefore, the EU membership has provided a new critical juncture impacting the consolidation or destabilisation of liberal democratic patterns of government. The article further argues that path dependence on the previous critical junctures of Central European politics plays a role in the political development of these countries’ stance on European integration. The authors show that there has been a contradiction between nationalism and liberal concept of democracy since the mid-nineteenth century and that this contradiction manifests in critical junctures based on European integration too.