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Democracy in transition – the first 30 years

Last year marked an important milestone as the world celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first post-communist election in Poland. Despite the latest developments, there is still a large democratic gap between transition countries that became EU members and other transition countries.

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Liberal democracy improved rapidly in transition countries that later became EU members. The first years showed the biggest improvement but was followed by a decade of further improvement. The initial shift was driven by popular movements within the countries…and supported by the EU and other democratic partners. In the last decade, several of these countries have started to undermine democratic institutions. Media freedom and clean elections have come under threat in Hungary, Poland and Romania. Despite the latest developments, there is still a large democratic gap between transition countries that became EU members. And many former Soviet Union countries (FSU) that remain at the lowest end of liberal democracy ratings. However, popular movements in Georgia, Ukraine and Armenia have led to significant improvements in liberal democracy ratings. People in other FSU countries may want to follow their examples. Who will try to stop them, who will support them and who is around to tell their stories?

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