Political Elites in Eastern Central Europe: Paving the Way for ‘Negative Europeanisation?’
Abstract: Political developments in Eastern Central Europe (ECE) question political achievements connected to Europeanisation. This paper outlines reasons for growing populism and nationalism of ECE political elites. The author argues that political elite behaviour is a main cause for populist and nationalist developments. ECE political elites have internalised a ‘negative political culture’ including unethical behaviour and an egoistic struggle for political power contradicting principles of liberal democracy. Within a democratic framework, elites prefer populist and polarizing power strategies not caring that these undermine democratic national institutions. In the context of Europeanisation, the author examines why political elites have turned away from positive Europeanisation culminating in EU accession and questions the success of Europeanisation. While political elites cooperated readily to become part of the European Union, they now increasingly oppose further political integration and tend to nationalize and polarize political issues, thus turning to a ‘negative Europeanisation’ of their countries.
Keywords: Europeanisation, Political Elites, Populism, Political Culture