Poland and Hungary reversing transition to democracy, warns Freedom House

By bne IntelliNews January 31, 2017

The rise of populism in Poland and Hungary is startling in suggesting that electorates are ready to back leaders that promise to reverse some of the most remarkable recent transitions from dictatorship to democracy, US government funded NGO Freedom House writes in its latest Freedom in the World report, released on January 31.

Populist and nationalist forces made significant gains in democratic states in 2016, while authoritarian powers engaged in brazen acts of aggression, according to the think tank’s latest annual report on political rights and civil liberties: Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy.

It’s little surprise that in Central & Eastern Europe it’s Poland and Hungary that provoke the most concern regarding democracy. Recent developments in the two countries “have raised the possibility that some of the most remarkable transitions from dictatorship to democracy in the 1980s and ’90s will be substantially reversed by elected populist leaders”, the report reads.

Putting the power enjoyed by the conservative nationalist PiS in Poland into perspective, Freedom House worries that the rise of such anti-establishment parties – also seen in countries such France or Germany – “is changing Europe’s political landscape and shifting the debate in ways that undermine the fundamental values of democracy”.

However, Freedom House appears a little confused when it comes to the rest of Visegrad. The think tank warns that the “October 2017 elections in the Czech Republic will see the rise or defeat of the populist and nationalist Ano party, which has been compared to the ruling, highly nationalistic parties in Hungary and Poland”.

Whilst Ano, and billionaire leader Andrej Babis, run on an anti-establishment platform, and promise easy answers to the problems of corruption and running the economy, similarities with Hungary’s Fidesz or Poland’s PiS are few and far between. Unlike President Milos Zeman, who bases his popularity on outrageous statements regarding refugees, Babis and his party generally steer clear of nationalist emotion.

Indeed, although Ano has been in a coalition government for the past four years or so, the Czech Republic still scores 94 points out of a possible 100. All the Visegrad states are rated as “free,” but Hungary lags badly. While Slovakia and Poland remain deadlocked at 89 points, Hungary’s score has dropped to just 76 in this year’s report.

Poland’s score was weighed down by a drop in its civil liberties rating due to sustained attempts by PiS, through hastily drafted legislation and other measures, to increase government influence over the country’s media, judiciary, civil service, and education system.

However, Hungary saw both political rights and civil liberties – the two main sub-indices used by Freedom House - in reverse. The political rights rating declined “due to government practices that curtailed the ability of the opposition to freely and meaningfully participate in the formal political system, as well as continuing impunity for high-level corruption”, the report concludes.

 

 

Related Articles

Hungarian PM's "proxy" moves into the nuclear industry as Paks tenders approach

Firms controlled by Hungarian oligarch Lorinc Meszaros have purchased a 51% stake in the Hungarian subsidiary of Czech nuclear ... more

Czech PM accepts new nominee for finance minister

Reducing the political tension in the country a little, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka accepted on May 17 the nomination of a new finance minister from coalition partner Ano. Meanwhile, ... more

RBI doubles net profit y/y in Q1 as Russian business recovers

Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), the second largest bank operating across Central and Eastern Europe by assets, reported that net profit almost doubled year-on-year to €220mn in the first ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or purchase 12 months full website access including the bne Magazine for just $119/year.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.

Dismiss