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SPP 457

Author: Svetlozar Andreev
Description: The current rise of populism in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe is mainly seen as collateral of the dual process of post-communist transformation and European integration. The EU's latest two entries, Bulgaria and Romania, have not been an exception to this trend. The presence of significant national minorities (Hungarians, Turks and the Roma) as well as a lot of corrupt elites has been a fertile ground for the development of more extreme or milder versions of populism there. Even though populist leaders and their movements have generally been depicted in a negative light by the local and international media, they have often acted as catalysers and implementers of necessary systemic reforms. Moreover, populists have often managed to behave as disciplined mainstream politicians for long periods of time, while people in power and some public institutions in Bulgaria and Romania have resorted to populist tactics and rhetoric in order to gain further legitimacy. Regarding the key issue of Europeanisation before and after accession, the ostensible crisis of democracy and representation in both countries has led to a rise in importance of certain populist alternatives. Nevertheless, the consolidation of populist parties has not been as easy and straightforward as it may appear, while the populists' stance on many EU-related and international problems has been quite unconvincing both for their own members and society at large.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland