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4/13/17

Hungary - Poland: Central Europe's decline into authoritarianism - Edit Zgut and Wojciech Przybylski

It is time to accept that recent developments in Hungary and Poland, along with alarming reports on democratic standards in the region, are not just temporary turbulence, but a new type of political regime in the making.

The new Hungarian university law adopted this week by the parliament has already been branded a Lex-CEU.

This new legislation allowing the government to expel Central European University (CEU) from Hungary is like an X-ray image of a hybrid regime - a democracy drifting towards authoritarianism.

Moreover, it is not only an isolated case, but already more of a regional trend.

The alarming Nations in Transit 2017 report by Freedom House accounted for more countries in democratic decline rather than improving. As many as 18 of the 27 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries fell in the ranking.

"This is the second biggest decline in the survey’s history, almost as large as the drop following the 2008 global financial crisis," wrote the authors.

One case helps to understand a pattern that can be later compared with other countries.

At the end of the day, it is not so new to observe a democratic decline. But it is surprising to find that the most prominent success stories of the democratic transition - Hungary and Poland - turn their back on the past achievements and move towards a hybrid regime.

Read more: Central Europe's decline into authoritarianism

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