THE EASTERN ENLARGEMENT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION: CHALLENGES TO DEMOCRACY? 1
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Recent scholarship assesses the impact of the European Union's conditionality on democracy in Central and Eastern Europe in a contradictory way. On one hand, the EU is perceived as a key agent of successful democratic consolidation and on other hand, the return of nationalist and populist politics in new member states has been explored in the context of the negative consequences of the hasty accession that undermined government accountability and constrained public debate over policy alternatives. This article explains this puzzle of the ambiguous effects of the EU's politics of conditionality, which promoted institutions stabilizing the horizontal division of powers, rule of law, human and minority rights protection, but which neglected norms and rules of participatory and/or popular democracy.
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