The Threat of Selective Democracy. Popular Dissatisfaction and Exclusionary Strategy of Elites in East Central and Southeastern Europe

in Southeastern Europe
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


The large dissatisfaction of citizens with post-communist democracy in Central and Eastern Europe favors populist and anti-systemic parties and movements. These parties accuse their rivals of various forms of corruption and prescribe anti-systemic cures, including the discretionary exclusion of their rivals from political life. Analyzing the situations in Poland, Romania, and Hungary more closely, we reveal a risk of the development of “selective democracy,” in which key elites and their supporters redefine the borders of the polity in an exclusionary way, denying various groups of “enemies” legitimate access and representation and thereby undermining basic democratic principles.



AschersonN. 2007. “Poland after PiS: Handle with care,” Open Democracy (October 26th, 2010). <> (accessed August 16th 2009).

BunceV. 2003. “Rethinking recent democratization: Lessons from the postcommunist experience,” World Politics 55: 167192.

Candidate Countries Eurobarometer 2002: Candidate Countries Eurobarometer Autumn 2002. (accessed October 11th, 2012).

Candidate Countries Eurobarometer 2003: Candidate Countries Eurobarometer 4/2003. (11.10.2012).

CarbonnelA. de. 2010. “Russia uses extremism law to target dissenters,” Reuters (December 16th). <> (accessed April 4th 2012).

Central and Eastern Eurobarometer 1995. Central and Eastern Eurobarometer 6. (accessed October 10th, 2012).

Central and Eastern Eurobarometer 1997. Central and Eastern Eurobarometer 8. (accessed October 10th, 2012).

ColemanJ. 1990. Foundations of Social Theory (Harvard: Harvard University Press).

DragomirE. 2011. “The Romanian secret services, politics and the media: A structural overview,” Balkan Analysis (April 20th). <> (accessed April 25th 2011).

DumitrescuI. 2011. “SRI a ieşit de sub control parlamentar. De cinci ani,” Puterea (February 13th). <> (accessed April 25th 2012).

EkiertG., KubikJ. and VachudovaM.A.. 2007. “Democracy in the post-communist world: An unending quest?East European Politics and Societies 27: 730.

Eurobarometer 2004: Standard Eurobarometer 61. (accessed October 11th, 2012)

Eurobarometer 2005: Standard Eurobarometer 64. (accessed October 11th, 2012)

Eurobarometer 2006: Standard Eurobarometer 66. (accessed October 11th, 2012)

Eurobarometer 2007: Standard Eurobarometer 68. (accessed October 11th, 2012)

Freyberg-InanA. and VargaM.. 2011. “Ungarn seit der Wahl – Demokratie unter Druck,” Berliner Debatte Initial 22: 120126.

FuchsD. and RollerE.. 2006. “Learned democracy? Support of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe,” International Journal of Sociology 36: 7096.

FuchsD., RollerE. and ZagórskiK.. 2006. “Interaction of social and political processes,” International Journal of Sociology 36: 310.

GaberR. 2002. “Verlierer der transformation in Mittelosteuropa,” in OsteuropaForschungsstelle (ed.) Gewinner und Verlierer Post-sozialistischer Transformationsprozesse (Bremen: Forschungsstelle Osteuropa): 111117.

GazetaWyborcza 2007. “Kaczyński: Był zamach i ktoś skorzystał na śmierci brata”, 09.04.2012,,105770,11503937,Kaczynski__Byl_zamach_i_ktos_skorzystal_na_smierci.html (accessed October 11th, 2012).

GolinowskaS. 2005. “Polish society 15 years after the round table: Its condition, social structure, attitudes, values and social capital,” in Poland: The Social Report (Warsaw: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung): 139164.

JacobsJ., MüllerO. and PickelG.. 2003. “Persistence of democracies in Central and Eastern Europe: Consolidation, stability, and people´s power of resisting,” in PollackD., JacobsJ., MüllerO. and PickelG. (eds.) Political Culture in Post-communist Europe: Attitudes in New Democracies (London: Aldershot): 91114.

KitscheltH. 2000. “Linkages between citizens and politicians in democratic policies,” Comparative Political Studies 33: 845879.

——. 2003. “Accounting for post-communist regime diversity. What counts as a good cause?” in EkiertG. and HansonS. (eds.) Capitalism and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 4988.

KrasnodębskiZ. 2006. “Verlierer und Gewinner in Ostmitteleuropa,” OST-WEST: Europäische Perspektiven 7: 93101.

KulishN. 2011. “Foes of Hungary’s government fear ‘demolition of democracy’,” The New York Times (December 21st): A6.

MarketingLeger. 2006. Voice of the People 2006: What the World Thinks on Today’s Global Issues (Montreal: Transcontinental).

McFaulM. 2005. “Transitions from postcommunism,” Journal of Democracy 16: 519.

MerkelW., PuhleH.-J. and CroissantA.. (eds.) 2003. Aurel Croissant (Hrsg.): Defekte Demokratien. Bd.1, Theorien und Probleme (Wiesbaden: Vs Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften).

——. 2006. Defekte Demokratien. Bd.2, Defekte Demokratien in Osteuropa, Ostasien und Lateinamerika (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften).

MesezhnikovG., GyarfasovaO. and SmilovD.. 2008. Populist Politics and Liberal Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe (Bratislava: Institute for Public Affairs).

Pop-ElecheşG. 2007. “Historical legacies and post-communist regime change,” Journal of Politics 69: 908926.

ScheppeleK.L. 2012. “The new Hungarian Secret Police,” The New York Times Opinion Pages (April 19th). <> (accessed April 25th 2012).

SegertD. 2008. “Parteiendemokratie in der Krise: Gründe und Grundlagen in Ostmitteleuropa,” Osteuropa 58: 4961.

SemlerC. 2007. “Etappensieg für Polens Demokraten,” Le Monde Diplomatique (June 2007). <,a0005.idx,1> (accessed April 25th 2012).

SmilovD. 2008. “Bulgaria,” in Mesezhnikov et al. 2008: 1336.

SmilovD. and KrastevI.. 2008. “The rise of populism in Eastern Europe: Policy paper,” in Mesezhnikov et al. 2008: 712.

TokfalviE. 2011. “A FIDESZ megvalósította a Jobbik kormányprogramját,” Hírszerző (December 12th). <> (accessed April 25th 2011).

VachudovaM.A. 2005. Europe Undivided. Democracy, Leverage, and Integration after Communism (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

VargaM. and Freyberg-InanA.. 2009. “Demokratie okay, aber fuer alle? Demokratieunzufriedenheit und selektive Demokratie in Mittel- und Osteuropa,” Berliner Debatte Initial 20: 104119.

——. 2010. “Ungarn 2010: Die Bedeutung der Wahlergebnisse im kontext der demokratieentwicklung,” Berliner Debatte 21: 6066.

Waldron-MooreP. 1999. “Eastern Europe at the crossroads of democratic transition: Evaluating support for democratic institutions, satisfaction with democratic government, and consolidation of democratic regimes,” Comparative Political Studies 32: 3262.

WiesenthalH. 2001. Politics against Theory: On the Theoretical Consequences of Successful Large-scale Reforms in Postcommunist Europe. <> (accessed June 25th 2006).


Eurobarometer 61 (2004) shows that satisfaction with democracy in one’s country was the highest among CEE workers (37 percent) and in the 15–24 age group, and lowest among the unemployed (24 percent) and retirees (24 percent). See also Candidate Countries Eurobarometer 2003.4 (2003).


E.g., “La Hongrie voudrait mettre les Roms dans des camps de travail obligatoire,” Info, July 14th, 2011.


  • Summary of the argument: Dissatisfaction with democracy and its consequences for democratic quality

    View in gallery
  • Satisfaction with democracy in European comparison (percentage), 2007, post-communist countries in red8

    View in gallery
  • Satisfaction with democracy in Poland, Hungary, and Romania9

    View in gallery
  • Trust in parliaments in Central and Eastern Europe

    View in gallery


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 9 9 3
Full Text Views 5 5 5
PDF Downloads 1 1 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0