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Two cheers for populism

The shift from liberalism to populism in central and eastern Europe is not quite as bad as it looks. While the ex-dissidents dominate politics and the ex-communists dominate business, populism gives a voice to the losers from the transition period

By Ivan Krastev   January 2008

The liberal era that opened in central Europe in 1989 decisively closed in the course of 2007. The rest of Europe finally woke up to the fact that populism and illiberalism are rampant in the region. Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s ugly and populist government in Poland was unexpectedly defeated in October’s general election, but the behaviour of his Law and Justice party in office had alerted the rest of the continent to the depressing trends in central Europe. According to the global Voice of the People survey 2006, central Europe is now the region of the world where citizens are most sceptical…

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