Eastern Europe Marches Right

After 1989, Eastern Europe became the poster child for liberal democracy. One after another, the countries in the region replaced their Communist systems with new market economies, alongside democratic structures. After many years of difficult “transition”—high unemployment, industrial collapse, rural dislocation—the countries in the region all began to stabilize as they approached the...
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Welcome to the Birthplace of Trumpism

He was a rich businessman, an outspoken outsider with a love of conspiracy theories. And he was a populist running for president. In 1990, when Donald Trump was still beyond the furthest outskirts of American politics, Stanislaw Tyminski was trying to become the new president of post-communist Poland.  He shared something else with the future Trump: nobody in the political elite took Tyminski...
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Things Fall Apart

Democracy can be messy. In the northeast corner of Spain this week, democracy was downright chaotic. Catalans went to the polls on Sunday to vote in a referendum on whether to stay in Spain or go their separate way. The Spanish authorities, however, declared the vote illegitimate and sent in the national police to disrupt the referendum. In many locales, as the police swept into the polling...
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Germany and the Rise of a “Fascist International”

Germany got its very own electoral shock this week when the far right won 13 percent of the vote in country’s parliamentary elections. For the first time in more than half a century, the far right will be represented in the German parliament, with more than 90 seats. Although it’s now Germany’s third most popular party — behind the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SDP)...
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Trump: The Anti-Gorbachev

Back in the late 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev had a magic touch internationally. Traveling outside the Soviet Union, he often received the adulation that was so frequently lacking at home. When Gorbachev visited other Communist countries, crowds would turn out to welcome him as a savior. He had that effect in Beijing when he visited on May 16, 1989. The protests in Tiananmen Square had started the...
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Pushing Rewind on 2016

The two events that put 2016 in the history books — alongside other pivotal years such as 2001, 1989, and 1945 — were, of course, the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in the United States. What makes 2016 different, however, is its apparent revocability. Germany and Japan, after all, didn’t try to restart World War II. Nobody attempted to rebuild the Berlin...
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