The six countries of the Eastern Partnership program lag far behind their closest neighbors in the EU. But this is a testament to the bloc’s past successes, and a sign that it must help these states build up their democratic institutions.
However, seemingly hamstrung by its limited competencies in this area and preoccupied by the economic crisis, Brussels has been hesitant in its reaction to apparent democratic backsliding. Sooner or later the European Union will be forced to take a firmer stance on the protection of democratic institutions within its member states. Click here to read Sylvana Habdank-Kolaczkowska and Zselyke Csaky's op-ed for the EU Observer.
When a far-right political party with a nationalist, anti-immigration, and Euroskeptic agenda joined a coalition government after Austria’s 1999 parliamentary elections, the 14 other countries of the European Union (EU) balked. The inclusion of Jörg Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) challenged an implicit agreement among EU members that extremist parties would be barred from central government positions.
Mounting domestic pressure for democratic change in Eurasia was met with increasingly repressive policies by the region’s autocratic governments in 2012, according to the newly released edition of Nations in Transit, Freedom House’s annual analysis of democratic development from Central Europe to Central Asia. The year’s events show that the entrenchment of authoritarian rule has come at the cost of increased corruption, censorship of the media, suppression of civil society, and in some cases violence against the political opposition.