In its 2022 Nations in Transit report, Freedom House observed an ongoing 18-year decline of democracies in Central Europe and Eurasia. With the electoral victories of the Brothers of Italy and the Sweden Democrats, both far-right parties with neo-fascist roots, the European Union may need to brace for stringent immigration policies, backlash on LGBTQIA rights, and the calcification of growing Euroscepticism. Furthermore, with the reelection of Hungarian President Viktor Orban, the rising popularity of France’s Marie Le Pen National Rally party, and far-right groups proliferating in Germany and Bosnia, is Europe faced with a new inflection point on the future of European democracy and political security?
This bloc of anti-democratic leaders continues to consolidate institutional powers, judicial leadership, media apparatuses, and domestic security for political and elite capture, resulting in eroded democratic institutions. Do these trends forecast further destabilization in the region? Is Europe at a new crossroads between democracy and rising autocracy? What lessons can be drawn from the January 6, 2021, US Capitol insurrection, and can they be applied to the European political landscape? How can this historical moment be explained, and can it be reversed?
Helping us to analyze these trends are Mr. Mike Smeltzer, Senior Research Analyst for Nations in Transit at Freedom House and Ms. Laura Thornton, Director and Senior Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund. Mr. Nicholas Thompson, NCAFP Trustee and CEO of The Atlantic, moderated this timely conversation.