Nations in Transit 2020: Dropping the Democratic Facade

Zselyke Csaky, Freedom House

Created 06/30/2020

Analysis, Monitoring

From Freedom House

As the democratic consensus of the post–Cold War order has given way to great-power competition and the pursuit of self-interest, these politicians have stopped hiding behind a facade of nominal compliance. They are openly attacking democratic institutions and attempting to do away with any remaining checks on their power.

In the region stretching from Central Europe to Central Asia, this shift has accelerated assaults on judicial independence, threats against civil society and the media, the manipulation of electoral frameworks, and the hollowing out of parliaments, which no longer fulfill their role as centers of political debate and oversight of the executive. Antidemocratic leaders in the region continue to pay lip service to the skeletal, majoritarian element of democracy—claiming that they act according to the will of the people—but they do so only to justify their concentration of power and escalating violations of political rights and civil liberties.

These developments have contributed to a stunning democratic breakdown in the 29 countries covered by Nations in Transit. There are fewer democracies in the region today than at any point since the annual report was launched in 1995. The erosion has left citizens especially vulnerable to further rights abuses and power grabs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

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