Illiberal Regression of Democracy as an Opportunity for Political Extremism Case of post - Communist Slovakia

Two interpretation lines are often applied in explanation of rising radicalism and extremism in the transition countries: ethno-politics and social deprivation, in other words the revival of nationalism/obsession with identity and uneven impact of economic reforms during transition period to different groups of the population. Both interpretation schemes are fully legitimate, however, they do not seem to be sufficient to create a more comprehensive explanatory framework.

The working hypothesis of the project is a consideration that no less important factor of the growth of right-wing radicalism in Slovakia is – besides ethno-politics and social deprivation – an illiberal regression in the execution of power by mainstream political forces: tyranny of the majority, efforts to limit the fair electoral competition, marginalization of the opposition (especially of liberal-democratic orientation), selective justice, attacks on independent media and civil society, state capture, nourishing the illiberal public discourse on democracy, freedom, human rights, universal values, migration, the future of the EU, etc. The illiberal practice in the governance which has constantly worsened the quality of democracy and reduced the effectiveness of the functioning the democratic institutions in the state, did not harm the extremists (neither was oriented against them), on the contrary – it prepared a breeding soil for them in terms of their voter empowerment, created a more favorable atmosphere for their presentation of abilities to „effectively“ solve the problems in an illiberal way. Many voters with authoritarian inclinations in political culture see the right-wing extremists much more authentic representatives of the illiberal stream – principled, resolute, and non-corrupt.

Grigorij Meseznikov

Grigorij Mesežnikov is a political scientist and the president of the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO). He is a graduate of the Faculty of Arts at Moscow State University (MGU). He worked at Comenius University and at the Political Science Institute at the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava. He is a founding member of IVO, which he joined full-time in June 1997. In 1999, he became the Institute’s president. He has published expert studies on party systems’ development and political aspects of transformation in post-communist societies, illiberal and authoritarian tendencies, populism, radicalism and nationalism in various monographs, collections and scholarly journals in Slovakia and other countries. He regularly contributes analyses of Slovakia’s political scene to domestic and foreign media. He is co-author of the book 2018. Year of Protests (with journalist Tomáš Gális, in Slovak).