The Real Tragedy of Central Europe

Trouble in the Region is Trouble for Everyone Involved

24 December 2019

Wojciech Przybylski

Editor-in-Chief

Today’s illiberal manifestations in Central Europe are part of a larger global trend in which the liberal world order is being questioned and trust in the pillar institutions undermined. However, these undemocratic movements also have their local roots.

The understanding of Central Europe from over thirty years ago – as part of the West captured by the Byzantine East and represented geographically by Europe behind the Iron Curtain – has been fading away over the three decades of successful transformation. The nations of Central Europe have regained independence and restored their place in the West mostly by following prescribed directions.

Ralf Dahrendorf

This was not an imitation game, yet the pace at which authoritarian rule was replaced by rule of law and democratic institutions left many, like Ralf Dahrendorf, wondering whether consolidation of democracy will not require a few more generations. The long list of success stories that followed in all dimensions of political, social and economic performance would take up a great deal of space.

At the peak of this continuum, the region has become so successful that even the first signs of democratic backsliding, corrupt schemes and centrally exploited social polarisation were not considered as serious new trends but merely as hick-ups. Democracy was being feted around the world and Central Europe was enjoying the limelight. But where there is hubris, there is imprudence.

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Wojciech Przybylski

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief of Visegrad Insight and President of the Board at the Res Publica Foundation. His expertise includes European politics and political culture. Previously, he has been the editor-in-chief of Eurozine - a Vienna based magazine with a European network of cultural journals, and a Polish quarterly Res Publica Nowa. Wojciech also co-authored a book 'Understanding Central Europe’, Routledge 2017.

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