East Europe

Unless the West strengthens its support for Bulgarian civil society, the country is in danger of drifting back into the arms of Russia.

Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007 and has been a member of NATO since 2004. Iveta Cherneva argues, however, that recent developments suggest the country may be turning toward Russia. The current government led by Plamen Oresharski has backed a number of Russian led energy projects in the country, such as the construction of a new nuclear power plant. […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

After a period of political turmoil, Romania is building on its strengths and looking outwards for investment to stimulate growth.

Last year, Romanian politics was rocked with infighting between the country’s Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, and President, Traian Basescu. Clara Volintiru writes that the country has largely moved on from its political squabble, and is now positioning itself as an attractive target for investment compared with its neighbours in Central and Eastern Europe. Whether this strategy will bring the growth […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Bulgaria’s on-going protests are driven by a society that refuses to tolerate further a political class that disregards democratic principles

Only weeks after national elections in May, street protests have once again erupted in Bulgaria. Marietta Stankova writes that what began as a protest against an ill-judged state appointment has developed into a widespread movement of dissatisfaction with the government’s lack of respect for democracy. In spite of the protests, and while new elections are increasingly probable, a major change in […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

The EU’s standoff with Hungary shows that there is little agreement on how European institutions can intervene in the policies of national governments

Since the 2010 election of the Fidesz government in Hungary, the EU has become concerned about its increasingly aggressive nationalist turn, including major changes to the constitution, media, judiciary, and education system, write Erin Marie Saltman and Lise Herman. As leaders in Hungary’s government protest about the EU’s ‘colonisation’ of Hungary, Europe’s leaders disagree on whether or not the country […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

After years of above-average growth, Poland now faces the spectre of recession.

In comparison to the rest of Europe, Poland has experienced stand-out economic performance since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008. However, Gavin Rae warns that this performance is largely based on the Polish government’s ability to leverage funding from the EU. With a declining EU budget that now focuses on innovation over infrastructure, as well as increased budgetary […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

The history of Serbia’s youth protests illustrates the importance of learning and adaptation in protest tactics

In the wake of the Arab Spring, it is clear that protest movements can be a viable means to affect change on a national level. In this light, Olena Nikolayenko looks at the development of the Serbian youth protest movement, Otpor, from its antecedents in the early 1990s to its role in the electoral defeat of the President of Federal […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Bulgaria’s low election turnout is a symptom of the growing mistrust for the ruling GERB party and the country’s political system.

Last weekend’s election saw GERB continue as the largest party in Bulgaria’s parliament, a success for former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Antoaneta Dimitrova argues that while European commentators may see the election result as confirmation of the government’s good management of the country, the low turnout of 53 per cent suggests that Bulgarians have become disenchanted with GERB and the […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Despite strong support for Fidesz among decided voters, most Hungarians are increasingly disillusioned about politics and politicians.

Erin Marie Saltman writes that opposition forces remain divided in Hungary, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz government continues initiatives to solidify changes to the constitution, media laws and voting constituencies. In Hungary March 15th is a day resonating in political legacy. Spawned in remembrance of the 1848 revolution, Hungary’s iconic poet revolutionary Sándor Petőfi stood on the steps of the NationalMuseum […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Support for EU membership in Croatia has fallen dramatically since accession negotiations began in 2003

This summer, Croatia is due to become the 28th member state of the European Union. But how do Croatians feel about EU membership? Renata Franc, Vanja Medjugorac and the project MYPLACE team report that support for EU membership in Croatia has fallen dramatically since accession negotiations began in 2003. They attribute this fall in support to the lack of public […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

The EU needs to adopt a more pragmatic policy towards Belarus based on cooperation rather than sanctions.

The EU’s sanction regime against Belarus and the government of President Alexander Lukashenka has been in place for more than 16 years.  In an abridged version of a brief originally published by the European Union Institute for Security Studies, Ondrej Ditrych writes that while the sanctions illustrate the EU’s objections to the regime in Belarus, all the available evidence has shown that they have […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Until relations between citizens and states improve in individual nations, it is unlikely that we will see a decline in Euroscepticism

With each passing month of crisis, the transnational solidarity on which the European project depends looks ever more unstable. Domonkos Sik uses Hungary as a case study to argue that attitudes towards the European Union are shaped by the degree of trust which characterises relations between citizens and the state at a national level.   It increasingly seems as if the prolonged […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Slovakia has abolished its flat tax rate, but other Eastern and Central European countries are likely to continue with the policy.

Slovakia has maintained a flat tax rate for nearly nine years. Originally introduced with the aim of stimulating investment and to show the world it had moved on from its former communist economy, it has now been abolished by the country’s newly re-elected government. Andreas Peichl analyses the effects of the flat tax since 2004, and what the results of […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

In the midst of political crisis, Bulgarians are searching for accountability and justice from their government.

Bulgaria has experienced a wave of protests and demonstrations by those dissatisfied with endemic corruption and the lack of law and order in the country. These protests recently culminated in the resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Ekaterina Rashkova writes that new elections are now highly likely, as the other Bulgarian parties will find it difficult to form a government […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

The granting of territorial autonomy in the Balkans means that large scale violence is now near-impossible. But small scale conflicts continue.

Since the conflicts of the 1990s, various regions within the Balkans have been granted territorial autonomy in order to avoid further violence. Soeren Keil assesses the strategy, finding a great deal of variety in the implementation and effectiveness of territorial autonomy and power sharing across the region. While in most cases the likelihood of violent conflict is now very small, […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Romanian politics in 2012 has been marked by a rocky cohabitation between Victor Ponta’s government and President Traian Basescu.

In Romania, this year has seen the resignation of one government, a vote of no-confidence in another, an attempt to change the electoral system and efforts by the government to impeach the sitting President. Cristina Bucur looks over political developments in Romania during 2012, finding that they have been characterised by constitutional infighting and an often difficult political cohabitation between […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Romania badly needs a stable government to emerge from the aftermath of Sunday’s elections.

Last week’s parliamentary elections in Romania produced the clearest electoral majority in the country since the first post-communist elections in 1990. Gabriel Badescu writes that the magnitude of the Social-Liberal Union’s victory raises a potential issue for Romanian democracy, with the coalition now holding enough seats in parliament to pass a constitutional amendment. The Social-Liberal Union’s co-habitation with President Traian […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Further EU integration will help to stabilise the disruptive forces of nationalism now present in Macedonia.

Negotiations towards Macedonia’s accession to the EU have been prolonged and often postponed in recent years, mostly due to an on-going dispute with Greece over the country’s name. Goran Janev argues that these delays, combined with an ‘ethnocratic’ government, have allowed nationalist sentiments to develop and grow in Macedonia. If these nationalist trends are to be reversed it is vital […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Unless the fractured opposition left can unite, the political hegemony of the right will continue in Hungary.

In Hungary, political opinion has polarised, with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the Fidesz party enjoying considerable support as they continue to attack the EU. Erin Marie Saltman writes that only time will tell if Hungary’s divided left opposition will be able to put aside their differences and unite to overpower the radical right. Those less intimate with Hungarian political […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Resolving relations with Kosovo is a key obstacle to Serbia joining the EU.

Serbia was awarded EU candidacy status at the beginning of this year. Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik and Alexander Wochnik write that while recognition of Kosovo’s independence is not a formal requirement for Serbia’s membership of the EU, the ruling Serbian Renewal Party has used the Kosovo issue as a way to gain support among the country’s conservative voters. It may be a […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Anti-LGBT legislation in St Petersburg is having unforeseen consequences and mobilising Russia’s ‘gay diasporas’ overseas

Last month the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia must pay damages for refusing to allow ‘pride parades’ to be held in Moscow. Richard Mole argues that Russian anti-LGBT legislation is having a counter-productive effect by mobilising activists both within the country and beyond Russia’s borders. Despite this international pressure, Russian authorities have so far shown little sign […]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share