Democratic Erosion and Democratic Resilience in Central Europe during COVID-19

Keywords: pandemic, democratic erosion, democratic resilience, CEE, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia


What are the effects of populists in power on democracy during a pandemic? The paper seeks to distinguish the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic can (not) be traced to democratic erosion and democratic resilience. Are the changes in the quality of democracy resulting from political leaders' actions or rather a path-dependent continuation of previous trends? This contribution focuses on two paths – democratic erosion and democratic resilience – in the Visegrad Four countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia), which are all governed by populist leaders. It builds on previous literature that focused principally on the first wave of the pandemic by focusing on institutional guardrails and accountability (vertical, horizontal, and diagonal) during the 18 months of the pandemic. It seeks to answer the following question:  What conditions are necessary and sufficient to prevent democratic erosion?

Author Biography

Petra Guasti, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic,

Petra Guasti is Associate Professor of Democratic Theory at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Sociology, the Czech Academy of Sciences (on leave). Between 2016 and 2021 she served as a senior researcher, an Interim Professor and an adjunct lecturer at Goethe University Frankfurt. In 2021 she completed her (cumulative) habilitation thesis Democracy Disrupted at the same university. Her research focuses on the reconfiguration of the political landscape and revolves around three themes – representation, democratization, and populism. Her research appeared in Democratization, Democratic Theory, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, European Political Science, East European Politics and Societies and Cultures, Politics and Governance, and East European Politics. She serves as an expert for the Bertelsmann Transformation Index, Sustainable Governance Indicators, V-Dem, and the Nation in Transit.

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