What are the causes of East Central Europe’s growing illiberalism, and can the region’s democratic backsliding be halted? How are states such as Russia and China using “sharp power” to manipulate politics in democracies? What does the rise of capitalist authoritarianism mean for the global prospects of democracy?
In the July 2018 issue of the Journal of Democracy, a cluster of eight articles on East Central Europe explores the swell of populist and illiberal currents across six countries, and analyzes the broader factors behind the dramatic political shifts of recent years:
- Jacques Rupnik traces the region’s current troubling trajectory to the “decoupling of liberalism from democracy”;
- Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes argue that the “copycat nations” of East Central Europe are gripped by a rebellion against the post-1989 imperative to imitate the West;
- Six other articles explore developments in Hungary (Péter Krekó and Zsolt Enyedi); Poland (Wojciech Przybylski); the Czech Republic (Jiri Pehe); Slovakia (Grigorij Mesežnikov and Oľga Gyárfášová); Bulgaria (Venelin I. Ganev); and Romania (Alina Mungiu-Pippidi).
What is “sharp power”?
In an era of globalization coupled with authoritarian resurgence, the institutions of a growing number of democracies are straining to comprehend and to deal with the projection of authoritarian influence through more diverse channels than ever before. In the July 2018 issue, Christopher Walker defines the pervasive threat of “sharp power,” a term coined by the NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies to identify authoritarian influence efforts that seek to pierce, penetrate, and perforate the political and information environments of targeted countries.
In addition, in the July 2018 issue:
- Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Ennahdha party, makes the case for the compatibility of Islam and democracy;
- Roberto Stefan Foa explores the ascent of a new form of authoritarian modernity;
- Aurel Croissant, David Kuehn, and Tanja Eschenauer consider the role of militaries in determining whether autocracies will withstand mass protests;
- Benjamin J. Spatz and Kai M. Thaler assess the implications of Liberia’s recent presidential election; and
- Sumit Ganguly reviews Ornit Shani’s new book on the origins of universal suffrage in India.