The illiberal turn or swerve in central Europe?

Lenka Bustikova, Petra Guasti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Scholars are coming to terms with the fact that something is rotten in the new democracies of Central Europe. The corrosion has multiple symptoms: declining trust in democratic institutions, emboldened uncivil society, the rise of oligarchs and populists as political leaders, assaults on an independent judiciary, the colonization of public administration by political proxies, increased political control over media, civic apathy, nationalistic contestation and Russian meddling. These processes signal that the liberal-democratic project in the so-called Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) has been either stalled, diverted or reversed. This article investigates the “illiberal turn” in the Visegrad Four (V4) countries. It develops an analytical distinction between illiberal “turns” and “swerves”, with the former representing more permanent political changes, and offers evidence that Hungary is the only country in the V4 at the brink of a decisive illiberal turn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number4PopulismandtheRemakingof(Il)LiberalDemocracyinEurope
StatePublished - 2017


  • Czech Republic
  • Democracy
  • Democratic consolidation
  • Eastern Europe
  • Hungary
  • Illiberalism
  • Nationalism
  • Poland
  • Populism
  • Slovakia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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