The European Union's Authoritarian Equilibrium
Forthcoming in Journal of European Public Policy
21 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 8, 2019
While the European Union (EU) professes a commitment to liberal democracy, in recent years it has allowed some member governments to backslide toward competitive authoritarianism. The EU has become trapped in an “authoritarian equilibrium” underpinned by three factors. First, the EU’s half-baked system of party politics and its ingrained reluctance to interfere in the domestic politics of its member states help shield national autocrats from EU intervention. Second, funding and investment from the EU helps sustain these regimes. Third, the free movement of persons in the EU facilitates the exit of dissatisfied citizens, which depletes the opposition and generates remittances, thereby helping these regimes endure. While more fully developed democratic federations have the capacity to eventually steer autocratic member states back toward democracy, the EU appears to be stuck in an autocracy trap.
Keywords: European Union, Authoritarianism, Democratic Backsliding, Hungary
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