Europe's Viktors and democracy's downturn
By Christopher Walker and Sylvana Habdank-Kołaczkowska
Two Viktors – Orbán of Hungary and Yanukovych of Ukraine – are at the forefront of an anti-democratic trend in central and eastern Europe that raises serious questions about the durability of the European Union's young democracies as well as about the prospects for its aspiring members.
Orbán and Yanukovych have made their mark by marginalising opposition, curbing space for independent media and, more generally, concentrating political power. The governments in Budapest and Kiev have pursued a raft of measures in the name of “efficiency” and “order”. In Hungary, Orbán's Fidesz party, which enjoys a two-thirds parliamentary majority, has pushed through more than 350 pieces of legislation, including highly controversial judicial and media-related measures. Similar steamrolling has been on display in Ukraine, an erstwhile democratic hopeful now in the throes of an authoritarian throttling that is on course return the country to its pre-Orange Revolution status with respect to democracy.
Despite the authorities' claims to the contrary, these ostensible reform gambits are systematically breaking down critical checks and balances.
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