Central Europe is headed for turbulence, not Putinization

Warsaw, March 12, 2016: A pro-European demonstration. Hungarians and Poles enjoy unrestricted freedom of speech and association; citizens may publicly demonstrate their opposition to the government (source: dpa)
Warsaw, March 12, 2016: A pro-European demonstration. Hungarians and Poles enjoy unrestricted freedom of speech and association; citizens may publicly demonstrate their opposition to the government (source: dpa)

Recent political developments in Hungary and Poland have been interpreted as portending a reversal of westernization. If history is any guide, this perception is wrong. It is true that the region appears headed for institutional turbulence that could foster growing political and economic volatility. But a more serious upheaval is virtually precluded by the region’s strong middle classes, vigorous private sector and pressure from partners in the European Union and NATO.

The post-communist countries of Central Europe were once perceived as exemplary models of transformation. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia swiftly weaned themselves off central planning, introduced democ...

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