The Populist Turn in Central and Eastern Europe: Is Deliberative Democracy (Part of) the Solution?

This paper is concerned with understanding and responding to the rise of populism in Central and Eastern Europe. It makes two broad claims. First, that there is much to be gained by analyzing the rise of populism in the region (and elsewhere) as connected to a broader crisis of democracy. Second, that the search for solutions cannot be limited to prescriptions for more of the same – i.e. more liberal democracy, whether at the domestic or supranational levels – but must include a rethinking of the nature of democratic commitments pursued in the region. The paper places developments in countries such as Hungary, Poland and Romania in the context of their fraught post-communist transitions and constitutional unsettlements. It challenges easy assumptions about populism as a regional pathology and invites a reorientation of constitutional design and practice towards building a more participatory and deliberative democratic culture.