Pro-democratic shift in Central Europe?
The Czechs have now voted out a populist government, something the Slovaks succeeded in doing two years ago. In Hungary, too, the opposition has decent chances of prevailing against Viktor Orbán and his anti-European rhetoric in next year's general election. Journalists discuss what these developments mean for Central Europe and the causes of confrontation with the EU.
From post-communism to solid democracy
Commenting in El País, writer Monika Zgustová sees a democratic spring on the horizon in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic:
“Central Europe could be entering a new phase that may shape the current decade: the phase in which it leaves post-communism behind and begins a more solid democracy. ... Poland has been firmly rebuked after its rebellion against European law, and will no longer be able to carry on as before. And if Hungary doesn't want to lose its EU funding, it will have to keep its autocratic tendencies more under control. Moreover, under the influence of the Czech rejection of populism, Poland and Hungary will lose important ideological support in the region and will be left looking like two black sheep in the Europe of democratic values.”
A touch of Wałęsa in Hungary
There is a real chance of a change of government in Hungary also because the opposition candidate's CV bears so many similarities to another historical role model, Polityka believes:
“Márki-Zay, born in 1972, grew up to be a top politician in the shadow of the political titans. As the father of seven children and former employee of an electrical company, he could step into the role of Lech Wałęsa [also a trained electrician and father of eight children], who sparked a revolt against the hypocrisy and double standards of the government. He is not afraid to give flowery, long-winded speeches in which he sometimes loses his thread or slips into absurdity, and the people find this authenticity appealing.”
The causes of the identity crisis
The unification of Eastern and Western Europe also failed because expectations were too high, observes journalist Mojca Pišek in Delo:
“The reckoning with the legacy of the Cold War has failed for the two Europes. The 'old Europe' put too much faith in the 'new Europe'. And the 'new Europe' did not believe in itself after the end of socialism and its entry into capitalism. And now these countries do not know where they stand or what they want to be.”