Confronting the Leviathan: National Populism and Integration in Central and Eastern Europe

This piece was published in the Winter Issue Print Edition (Volume 11)


Many observers in 1989 interpreted the events that transpired that year as the rays of light that preceded the dawn of a golden age in the West: The Berlin Wall lay in rubble, broken down by a people liberated from communist oppression. The Soviet Union—the “evil empire” whose shadow had for decades loomed over half of Europe and much of the globe—was well on its way to dissolution as more and more countries rose up in protest of injustice.[1] Indeed, even before the destruction of the Berlin Wall (Mauerfall), scholar Francis Fukuyama hailed the times as the “end of history.”[2] But, as revealed in the years to come, liberalism would face perhaps its most daunting challenge yet: to transform and integrate former communist states into the existing political and economic order.[3] This paper argues that through the process of transition, the political philosophy that Fukuyama and many other Western thinkers espoused has sown the seeds of its own potential destruction—that is, the end of liberalism. As demonstrated in the cases of both Hungary and Germany, liberal reforms led to an over-concentration of authority in the hands of political and economic elites—irresponsible top-level politicians and captains of industry—during the processes of transition and integration. These efforts not only precluded change through non-liberal or non-capitalist methods, but also curtailed the practice of democratic principles, thereby creating conditions suitable for the resurgence of national-populist movements in Central and Eastern Europe.

The importance of Hungary and Germany as transition states and members of the European collective cannot be understated. Hungary, along with Poland and the Czech Republic, was quickly identified as one of the leaders in the transition away from communism, with its strong economy and close proximity to Western Europe. The Hungarian case is also noteworthy in that, even in the late 1960s, the government was implementing gradual reforms of the country’s planned economy. The German Democratic Republic was equally well-observed because, unlike other Central and Eastern European States (CEES), it found itself in the unique situation of being absorbed by a liberal-capitalist state, rather than “merely” transitioning to a new system. In this way, one could consider German unification as the most formidable test of liberal reforms in the post-communist era. Furthermore, both Hungary and Germany feature some of the leading national-populist movements in Europe today, namely Fidesz and Alternative for Germany, respectively. These two countries, whose current circumstances—politically, economically, and in other respects—are inextricably tied to their pasts, provide rich ground for uncovering the roots of national populism.

In examining these states’ experiences in transition and integration, there are certain elements of sociological theory that can help elucidate the engines working beneath political and economic structures. As an interpretive framework of social change, dialectical functionalism marries principles from structural functionalism with the dialectic devised by the philosopher Georg Hegel: First, it puts forth the claim that, in response to external change, societal structures make slight adjustments in order to minimize the effect on, and preserve the stability of, society as a whole. Second, this theory incorporates Hegel’s belief that change is produced through the conflict between opposing ideas and the resolution that results from said conflict. (That is, a thesis and its antithesis conflict and eventually produce a synthesis.) Karl Marx, in turn, applied the dialectic concept to the mechanisms of change in society.[4]

Social change can thus be defined as not merely an evolution from one point to another, nor a cyclical rotation between them. It is in fact both, in that opposing forces in society clash against one another, resulting in new compromises, for lack of a better word, that are increasingly more beneficial for said society than previous realities. As explained by Pierre van den Berghe, dialectical functionalism posits that “while societies do indeed show a tendency towards stability, equilibrium, and consensus, they simultaneously generate within themselves the opposites of these,” responding to change from both within and outside of themselves.[5] However, societies may resist change—resulting in what van den Berghe terms “malintegration”—since the previous norms are still considered valuable “either to the society as a whole, or to its ruling group or groups.” It is this increasing lack of adaptation that necessitates drastic counteraction to successfully integrate change and restore equilibrium.[6]

Therefore, it is the aim of this paper to demonstrate that in the transition period from the late 1980s through the 1990s, the communist societies of Central and Eastern Europe met their antithesis in the form of internal protest movements and Western liberalism, both of which challenged the undemocratic and oppressive reality of the communist systems. Attempting to maintain the status quo—one where citizens were controlled through heavy-handed bureaucracy—these societies resisted total change and, likewise, liberalism rejected any avenues of reform other than its own. Hence, a cycle of “malintegration” occurred in the CEES as they attempted to implement liberal ideas through illiberal means: Political and economic elites retained the same top-down authority structure that their communist predecessors had held in order to impose progressive, free-market reforms. This malintegrated framework became institutionalized in the European Union (EU), an entity that many perceived as the embodiment of liberalism’s final victory over the continent’s oppressive past. But the underlying concept of the EU rests upon a false equilibrium that disregards foundational principles such as democracy and national sovereignty, a contradiction that has prompted drastic opposition from national-populist movements. These factions seek to return the ideological pendulum to what they consider to be the true equilibrium, one that limits governance to the national level, rather than assigning control to some higher governmental structure, and gives considerable authority to the people instead of yielding it to unaccountable elite groups.

National Populism

Before analyzing Hungarian and German national-populist movements specifically, one must first understand national populism as a concept. Political scientists Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin explain that national populism “prioritizes the culture and interests of the nation, and […] promises to give voice to a people who feel that they have been neglected, even held in contempt, by distant and often corrupt elites.”[7] The authors elaborate on this definition by pointing to four major phenomena (“Four Ds”) that have encouraged widespread support for national-populist beliefs.

First, Eatwell and Goodwin believe that the elite nature of liberal democracy has fostered distrust of political institutions and the political process at large. This lack of confidence is compounded by the fact that leaders are increasingly dissimilar to their constituents, in that officials are better educated, wealthier, and have more white-collar work experience than the people who vote in support of them.[8]

Second, according to Eatwell and Goodwin, there are fears that rapid immigration and multiculturalism have instigated the destruction of national values and cultural history. Eatwell and Goodwin add that such “fears are wrapped up in a belief that culturally liberal politicians, transnational organizations and global finance are eroding the nation by encouraging further mass immigration, while ‘politically correct’ agendas seek to silence any opposition.”[9]

Third, national populists have arisen in response to a perceived deprivation of wealth in society. Eatwell and Goodwin make the distinction that this does not necessarily connote actual deprivation, but rather that people feel they “are losing out relative to others in society,” rendering their chances for upward mobility unlikely and the hope of a bright future dim. In this way, feelings of deprivation can be found among full-time and middle-class workers, in addition to individuals with unstable, part-time employment.[10]

Finally, the previous three crises have contributed to a “de-alignment” between mainstream politics and the people. Unlike in past decades, recent elections have been more contentious, and new parties are more likely to find support, even in established party systems. These developments stem from voters’ feelings of alienation by the political establishment, sentiments that have also led to the decline of historically strong social movements.[11]

In conjunction with these largely domestic issues, national populists also respond to the international system and, more specifically, to international organizations. Eatwell and Goodwin write that national populists do not shun the idea of belonging to multinational collectives such as the EU—in fact, as will be argued here, they have even welcomed membership at times—but they do prioritize national interests.[12] However, political theorist Yoram Hazony, in making his passionate case for nationalism, deems the EU an “imperialist project” that has “progressively relieved member nations of many of the powers usually associated with political independence” in a vain attempt to create a sort of pax Europaea. In fact, Hazony believes that liberalism itself is a form of imperialism, promising peace if humanity unites under one political standard and, consequently, one government that enforces said standard.[13] In the context of Central and Eastern Europe, political scientist Andrew C. Janos argues that, after the fall of communism, states experienced transition, “though not from authoritarianism to democracy but from one international regime to another.”[14] The liberal order that replaced the Soviet Union controlled CEES from the outside, imposing a “hegemonic agenda” and demanding that countries “surrender their sovereign rights just as they were recovering them from Soviet usurpation.”[15]

Therefore, national populists, at best, are wary of international bodies such as the European Union, and, at worst, regard it as the manifestation of Hobbes’ Leviathan, an absolute sovereign that threatens the survival of free nations.

In summary, national populism responds to the needs of ordinary people in opposition to elites, who have pursued only their own self-serving agendas. Both economic and cultural factors play into national-populist movements, and so they feature a diverse body of support. Yet, as will be shown through the lens of dialectical functionalism, national populists do not seek to abolish democracy. Rather, they bring attention to the internal contradictions of modern liberal politics, which paradoxically “[promise] ‘redemptive’ rule by the people, but which in practice [are] increasingly based on ‘pragmatic’ and technocratic competing elites whose values are fundamentally different from many of those they govern.”[16] That is, national populists see themselves as the guardians of free, democratic society and stewards of the people’s interests.

Hungary’s Post-Communist Transition

Following the conclusion of the Second World War, the communization of Hungary began gradually, but violently accelerated in the late 1940s, with members of the wartime and transition administrations summarily executed and the ravaged economy rebuilt and nationalized. However, in 1956, reforms inspired by Imre Nagy sparked an anti-communist revolution that prompted the country’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, which had been formed only a year earlier to be the political-economic-military partnership of states within the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Soviet troops invaded and quashed the revolt, and the General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party, János Kádár, assumed control of the government. To prove Hungary’s renewed loyalty to the Soviets, the Kádár government continued communist reforms and killed off Nagy and his followers in the months to come.[17]

However, gradual reforms enacted by the Hungarian government from the late 1960s onward signified a relaxation of the harsh communist policies. In 1968, Kádár introduced the New Economic Mechanism, which loosened centralized control of state enterprises and agriculture and encouraged the pursuit of profits. As Hungarians became increasingly exposed to foreign markets, the country fell into a trade deficit, so the government enacted further reforms and authorized the development of small enterprises. These businesses comprised a “second economy” that catered to consumers and boosted foreign tourism, particularly from the West. Despite these improvements and other measures, particularly related to infrastructure, the state debt increased, and Kádár was removed from office in 1988. More moderate party functionaries succeeded him and, after confidently allowing Hungarians to vote in free elections, the Communists lost to more reform-minded opposition groups.[18]

After the elections in 1990, a coalition of right-wing parties, led by József Antall’s Hungarian Democratic Forum (Magyar Demokrata Fórum or MDF), took the reins to enact new economic reforms. The nature of the environment in which the MDF rose to leadership, as explained by Hungarian political scientist Gergely Egedy, reflects the beginnings of the dialectical functionalist hypothesis:

After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, conservatives were forced into the radical position of advocating change, while the economic and political status quo was defended by the political left. This unusual arrangement emerged because the creation of democratic institutions and a market economy in 1989–90 was not accompanied by a redistribution of economic and cultural power. Instead, members of the former elite converted their pre-1989 political influence into economic and cultural capital in order to retain their privileged positions in many crucial fields.[19]

This blurring of the political lines suggests that the malintegration in Hungarian society had already begun. The elites of the left sought to consolidate power amidst the uncertainty of the immediate transition period, leaving the right to pursue what are commonly accepted as liberal principles of democracy and free markets.

While unquestionably conservative in character, the MDF under Antall positioned itself as a champion of centrist government. In promoting “forces of the center,” the new prime minister chose to follow a Burkean model of reform, “relying on our historical heritage” and allowing change to occur naturally from within the Hungarian system, rather than importing a foreign, Western model, as Poland did.[20] Antall’s approach thus bore a distinct national focus, yet that focus was balanced with other values: “We are of the view that the idea of the nation and the democratic rights of liberty, the human rights and the wish for social renewal must be represented simultaneously, in equilibrium, without giving priority to any of them.”[21]

Indeed, democracy constituted the cornerstone of the Forum’s vision of post-socialist Hungary. When the party’s plans for reform came under criticism in the days leading up to the first elections, Antall replied:

In my view—and I do not say this as a rhetorical trick—the greatest merit of this debate is that you criticized the program. This is the greatest historic exploit and achievement—the fact that you did not receive it with an automatic nod, with words of praise but with a sharp critique, using vitriolic expressions […] I am very glad that we have lived to see that a program of government is treated and criticized this way.[22]

Furthermore, Antall affirmed that “liberty and property” were essential to the success of post-communist Hungary, and that these two objectives were “the starting point of the program of the Hungarian Democratic Forum.”[23] With Antall at the helm of the nation, it seemed that Hungary was on its way to fully embracing freedom over authoritarian overregulation.

The MDF ultimately failed, however, to carry out the extensive plan of reform that it had promised, and it was surpassed by the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP; formerly the Communist Party) in the 1994 elections. During the four years that they spent in power, the MDF was constantly fighting off attacks from both the left and the right, with liberals and socialists accusing the government of being a catalyst for resurgent nationalism while the far-right criticized the MDF for not being nationalist enough. Antall’s untimely death in December 1993 sealed the party’s fate.[24] Under Gyula Horn, a member of the former Communist Party, the newly-elected Socialists unexpectedly chose to continue the market reforms undertaken by the MDF, slashing state spending, lowering the national debt, and increasing privatization. These measures, too, failed in the eyes of the public, and the MSZP was voted out of power.[25]

These reforms, however problematic, allowed Hungary to avoid some of the problems that other CEES, such as Poland, faced as a result of radical economic overhaul. Spearheaded by Minister of Finance Leszek Balcerowicz and American economist Jeffrey Sachs, the Polish economy underwent what is known as “shock therapy,” in which the system is forced to privatize and conform to free-market standards, virtually overnight. As in many socialist countries, the Polish state was responsible for producing almost three-quarters of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the end of the 1980’s. The anti-communist Solidarity (Solidarność) movement planned to remedy the situation by introducing gradual capitalist reforms after taking power.[26] However, Sachs declared that Poland “must reject any lingering ideas about a ‘third way’ […] and go straight for a Western-style market economy,” and so the nation’s leaders put the Sachs-Balcerowicz plan into action.[27] The results were disastrous: One quarter of the national workforce (approximately five million Poles) found themselves unemployed, and the number of citizens relying on government assistance skyrocketed. Ironically, as political economist Stuart Shields writes, “the neoliberal attempt to correct the ‘over socialisation’ of the economy created a gigantic welfare state.”[28] Fortunately, the Polish economy began to recover in the mid-1990s, with the GDP experiencing marked growth, and unemployment and inflation rates lowering considerably. But these rates were still high compared to the rest of the CEES, and half of Polish industry continued to operate under government control.[29]

Likewise, while some success had been achieved by the turn of the century, there nevertheless remained significant problems in the Hungarian economy. While seventy-five percent of state-owned enterprises were privatized by the end of the decade, the State Holding Company retained shares in over a hundred enterprises, perpetuating state influence on the economy. Additionally, the trade deficit in 1998 reached $321 million, pushing the national debt to $1.6 billion.[30]

In keeping with its unusual experience under communism, Hungary proved unique in some aspects of its transition towards liberal-capitalism, but it also shared in the pitfalls of other post-communist states. The “road to a free economy” that Hungarian economist János Kornai envisioned in 1990—and, as some would argue, the road to freedom itself—was a long and difficult one indeed.[31]

The German Democratic Republic and Unification with the Federal Republic

In the autumn of 1949, just over four years after the conclusion of the Second World War in Europe, the western Allies—the United States, the United Kingdom, and France—relinquished their zones of occupation in Germany to the new Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or Bundesrepublik Deutschland, also known as West Germany), while the Soviet Union passed its territory to the German Democratic Republic (GDR or Deutsche Demokratische Republik, otherwise known as East Germany).[32] Yet, the framers of the West German constitution—and those who built the East German system as well—anticipated a future national reunification (Wiedervereinigung), and thus they included provisions for such an occasion in the foundational documents. The GDR, however, removed any such plans from its revised constitution of 1968 due to the rising tensions between the East and West that would continue to exist for much of the Cold War.[33] Nevertheless, in 1989 Hungary opened its borders, giving citizens of the GDR access (via Austria) to automatic citizenship in the FRG, and the continued growth of local opposition movements precipitated the Peaceful Revolution (friedliche Revolution), thus substantially increasing the prospect of a united Germany.[34]

Regardless of the method by which the states came together, the unification would be in effect not so much a fusion of two halves to form a new country, but rather a rejoining of the East with the West. The West German constitution (the Basic Law, or Grundgesetz) devoted two separate sections to the matter of future unification: The first was Article 146, which stipulated that the Basic Law would cease to exist once a new constitution was enacted by both sides. In theory, operating under this article would ensure the participation of both Western politicians and the democratic reformers from the GDR. The second option was represented in the text of Article 23, which stated that the jurisdiction of the Grundgesetz (and all rulings of the West German Constitutional Court pertaining to it) would be extended to “other parts of Germany” upon their accession to the FRG. The virtually total continuance of Western law in the East was meant to facilitate the most stable transition possible, and certain revisions would be made to accommodate Eastern practices. In March 1990, the West German parliament (Bundestag) voted to follow the plan laid out in Article 23—despite the fact that the results of the GDR elections, which would determine who would lead the East during the unification negotiations, were as yet unclear. This outcome would set the tone for much of the subsequent decisions regarding unification in the months to come, dismissing the will of East Germans as well as the democratic process itself.[35] The stage was set for the dialectical conflict over the future operation of government and society in Germany.

Unquestionably the most formidable challenge in the unification process was the union of the Western and Eastern economies and their currencies. The bulk of the work involved in the economic transition lay in the ratification of the “Treaty concerning the Creation of a Currency, Economic, and Social Union” (Vertrag über die Schaffung einer Währungs-, Wirtschafts- und Sozialunion). Also known as the State Treaty, the agreement was signed on May 18, 1990, and ratified by the two national parliaments, the Bundestag and the Volkskammer, in late June of the same year. Effective on July 1, the Treaty introduced the Deutsche Mark (D-Mark) into the Eastern economy and initiated the economic unification process. The State Treaty also served as the de facto East German constitution during the final days of the GDR.[36]

However, the actual negotiation and drafting of the State Treaty featured little involvement beyond the dominant Western party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU; Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands), and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU; Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern). In the Bundestag, the Social Democratic Party (SPD; Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands) protested that, during the framing of the agreement, neither the parliament nor the state governments—represented in the Bundesrat (the German legislature’s upper chamber, comparable to the U.S. Senate or the British House of Lords)—were consulted.[37] More importantly, East German reform activists objected:

Government commissions negotiate a state treaty behind locked doors; the parliaments are not consulted. The government […] then presents the finished draft as a treaty in international law—to which, as everyone knows, [the parliaments] can only say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ […] Thus the whole German people in free self-determination can only add a couple of grudgingly conceded footnotes to the economic-political [ordnungspolitischen] chapters of their future constitution.[38]

These fervent protests reveal the exclusionary, elitist attitudes that pervaded the unification process. Rather than incorporating diverse viewpoints from both sides of the national border (innerdeutsche Grenze), the select few officials in power prioritized their own Western agenda over the voice of the regular citizens whom the unification policies directly impacted. As understood through the lens of dialectical functionalism, the rigidity of liberalism did not allow for alternative paths of reform.

As mandated by the State Treaty, the GDR was required to accept the D-Mark as its standard currency almost immediately, with near-catastrophic results. Although the agreement allowed for special exceptions, it effectively set the average exchange of the GDR Mark to the D-Mark at a rate of 1.8 to 1, despite the fact that the D-Mark was previously worth three GDR Marks, and the comparative value between the two currencies declined over time. Consequently, the market price of goods manufactured in the GDR quickly tripled. Additionally, as made possible by the currency union, Western vendors rushed to the East, and within days what were once considered luxury items, such as bananas and running shoes, appeared in East Berlin shops. While beneficial for consumers, the access to these new goods meant that farmers and other sellers in the GDR, who had enjoyed relatively little competition for decades, now found the economic rug pulled out from under their feet. By the end of the summer, hundreds of thousands of jobs had vanished; by 1992, nearly half of all jobs in the East would disappear, along with two-thirds of the region’s industrial production capacity. These shockwaves signaled the beginning of the “cold start” (Kaltstart) in eastern Germany, as the engine that once drove the GDR economy (or what was left of it by 1990) was made to run not only on a different type of fuel, but also with entirely new parts, many of which were not readily compatible.[39]

Another important facet of the economic merger was the privatization and restitution of Eastern state enterprises. Because the majority of state-run businesses could not be returned to their owners—since owners had fled to the West, or companies had modified their operations or were still of use to the state—the GDR Volkskammer authorized the creation of the Treuhandanstalt (Trust Agency) in mid-June 1990 to review and reallocate assets. The Treuhand Law (Treuhandgesetz) gave this entity considerable leniency in regard to the period of time required to assess and sell (or dissolve) enterprises and allotted it considerable influence in the economic reconfiguration. In opposition to Adam Smith’s beliefs about free markets in the Wealth of Nations, the Treuhand became the very visible “hand” that rebuilt the eastern German economy. Due to the mammoth scope of its mission, the Treuhand employed thousands of Germans across sixteen offices, with headquarters in East Berlin.[40]

Many Germans had mixed feelings, at best, about the work of the Treuhand. Detlev Rohwedder was appointed as chair of the agency, and under his leadership, many businesses that could have been potentially salvaged were terminated. Such actions produced massive unemployment, and after the currency union, some 5,000 businesses managed by the Treuhand defaulted on their debts, resulting in even more jobs lost. These events were compounded by general economic upheaval in the early 1990s, which in and of itself cost millions of people their jobs. The Treuhand became a scapegoat upon which Ossis (a colloquial name for East Germans) could place blame for their severe hardships—and, in many cases, rightly so—and the Monday night protests (Montagsdemonstrationen) that played a major part in the friedliche Revolution soon resumed.[41] Some scholars, including Ben Gook, assert that the GDR intended for the Treuhand to absorb such criticism during the unification process, thus shielding the post-unification administration of Chancellor Helmut Kohl from political fallout.[42] In any case, the Treuhand caused the destruction of hundreds of thousands of jobs and incurred debts amounting to billions of D-Marks. In many ways, the agency tasked with administering liberal privatization only continued the pattern of heavy-handed bureaucracy that had long existed in eastern Germany. Indeed, as legal scholar Peter E. Quint observes, “[t]he government and the Treuhand sought to create western economic conditions in the east [… but] these efforts […] evoked the greatest—and, indeed, the central—failure of German unification.”[43]

Naturally, economic unification would mean nothing if there were not a successful unification of the two political systems, which was outlined in the sequel agreement to the State Treaty, known as the Unification Treaty (Einigungsvertrag). In brief, the settlement determined how the GDR territory would be absorbed, how Western law would apply to the East during the transition, and how the Basic Law would function moving forward. Upon accession to the FRG, the former Eastern territory would be divided into five new states (Länder): Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia, in addition to a separate state of (unified) Berlin. Furthermore, while there existed certain exemptions during the transition period, Western legislation would ultimately supplant Eastern law, aside from the more permanent areas of policy stipulated in the Treaty. Lastly, due to the input of the SPD and Eastern reformers, the Unification Treaty amended Article 146 of the Basic Law, which now read that the Grundgesetz could still be replaced if and when a new, post-unification constitution took effect, even though unification occurred under the now-fulfilled Article 23. On August 31, FRG and GDR representatives signed the Unification Treaty, which was soon ratified by the Volkskammer, Bundestag, and Bundesrat.[44]

On the whole, the Unification Treaty signified a continuation of the West’s dominance over the unification proceedings. Because the GDR government had little experience in framing a document with as broad a scope as the Unification Treaty, the bulk of the provisions were written by the FRG, particularly the CDU, in the Western capital, Bonn. The primary objective—and result—was a replacement of GDR law en masse, in order to reverse what the CDU leadership condemned as “GDR injustice,” even where some Wessis (the nickname for West Germans) would have preferred GDR policy solutions. This was confirmed by the very method by which the Treaty was to be approved: As stipulated by FRG law, members of the Bundestag had only the choice of accepting or rejecting the agreement in its totality, instead of voting on individual amendments. Furthermore, in spite of their representation in the deliberations, the western Länder had little influence on the final product, and popular involvement was nonexistent.[45] In effect, the FRG’s constitutional approval process solidified the control not only of the West over the East, but also of the elites over ideological minorities and the ordinary populace. That is, the liberal structure in the West reinforced itself against external change, which only perpetuated the status quo of top-down bureaucracy that had existed in the East.

The German people were finally permitted to have a voice on the subject of unification in the first all-German elections in December 1990, the winners of which would lead Germany in its initial steps as a unified nation. As the FRG ushered Eastern parties into the fold, specific procedural modifications were necessary in order for the inaugural elections to occur. Normally, parties needed to receive at least five percent of the electoral vote in order to join the Bundestag. But for the East German parties that emerged from the friedliche Revolution, such as Alliance 90 (Bündnis 90), the task of capturing five percent of the total German electorate seemed almost insurmountable.[46] Alliance 90 itself was formed from a coalition of the reform movements New Forum (Neues Forum), Democracy Now (Demokratie Jetzt), and the Initiative for Peace and Human Rights (Initiative Frieden und Menschenrechte). Following a poor performance in the March Volkskammer elections, Alliance 90 merged with the Eastern Green Party (Grüne Partei) in order to cross the threshold.[47] If Alliance 90 struggled to win seats in the East, one could only imagine its difficulty operating in the West. Therefore, after receiving input from the Constitutional Court, the Bundestag adopted separate guidelines for the East and West, requiring that parties obtain five percent only in their respective “Germany.”[48] Three years later, Alliance 90 joined the western Greens to form Alliance 90/The Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), and the influence of the once-vocal reformers quickly dwindled in national politics.[49]

On October 3, 1990, the German Democratic Republic formally acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany, an event that resulted in the dissolution of the former, the expansion of the latter, and the unification of the German nation.[50] Yet throughout many aspects of the process, Easterners—as well as minority parties in the West—felt that their voices went unheard by the politicians and economists involved in the negotiations. Within months, Ossis saw their businesses, their laws, and their values radically change or even disappear altogether. Citizens in neither the East nor the West were given the opportunity to vote on the question of unification (although, at least in the East, the majority still would have supported unification). Rather, top-level officials engineered the entire affair, much in the same way that the GDR was established after World War II. Indeed, a popular referendum may very well have encouraged a unification not only in the political and economic arenas, but also in the minds of Germans on both sides.[51] This outcome further reveals the validity of the dialectical functionalist hypothesis, in that the structure of society worked to lessen the impact of change, and change manifested itself in the clash between opposing forces—East versus West, democratic reformers versus elite politicians and economists. Ultimately, although there were certainly benefits to unification, Easterners remained just as voiceless in the new union as they had been under the GDR.

In short, the central error of the unification process was its failure to include and honor the very people whom the liberal-capitalist transformation would affect most. Gook aptly summarizes the legacy of the union:

The swift westernisation of bureaucracy and politics meant many eastern Germans again, now after their revolution, felt locked out of decisions about their social world’s administration. Thus an elite-led reunification produced alienation for many eastern Germans, particularly given the revolution’s radically democratic genesis.[52]

EU Accession and Attitudes Towards European Integration

The pursuit of European integration dates back to 1951, when the leaders of Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the FRG signed the Treaty of Paris and established the European Coal and Steel Community, creating a protected trade zone for valuable natural resources. The European Economic Community (EEC), formed under the Treaty of Rome in 1957, instituted a common market for member countries that extended beyond simply coal and steel and removed most trade barriers. A few decades later, the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 marked the creation of the European Union, the ultimate iteration of pan-Europeanism, and set in motion the eventual adoption of the euro as the universal currency across EU member states.[53]

The process of accession to the EU revolves around the implementation of the acquis communautaire, or the legal code for the Union. Totaling some 130,000 pages divided into thirty-five chapters, the acquis includes all laws, agreements, regulations, and joint actions made by the member states, from the time of the EEC to the present. In order to become a member, candidate states must adhere to the acquis in full, meaning that a country must align all relevant institutions and sectors, public and private, with EU standards. After screening a prospective member’s ability to conform to the chapters of the acquis, the European Commission (which performs the executive functions in the EU) presents multiple reports analyzing the country’s ability to comply with each chapter. If the country does not meet the required conditions, the Commission will recommend a series of guidelines for reforming the necessary systems or practices. Upon fulfillment of the acquis, the candidate country signs an Accession Treaty, which also requires the consent of the European Parliament and the Commission. The treaty must then be ratified by not only the acceding country’s parliament, but also that of each EU member state, in order for the country’s full membership to take effect.[54]

In many CEES, government officials assigned top priority to attaining EU membership. With struggling economies and political instability, countries such as Hungary and Poland welcomed the chance to partner with the powerhouse economies and global leadership of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Politicians from the left and right agreed that joining the EU was the next step in their state’s political and economic development.[55] However, conforming to the acquis is no small task, and it entailed further renovation of CEES’ national structures, even though they had already changed considerably since 1990. The motivation to accede to the EU must have therefore been rooted in something more than simply the desire for economic gain, although this was, without question, significant. On a larger scale, EU membership signaled not only the departure from communism, but the restoration of CEES’ European identity.

Identity reconstruction in CEES is tied to what some scholars have termed “nation branding.” Broadly speaking, this idea refers to a country’s practice of crafting a particular image of itself, a phenomenon that incorporates discourses about politics, economics, and culture. By manufacturing a specific national narrative, states behave similarly to private firms that market products or services, in that countries aspire to make themselves more attractive for the investment of capital, whether it be financial, political, or otherwise.[56] CEES perceived Western Europe as the embodiment of everything good about being European, whereas Eastern Europe represented the continent’s failed, backward, or even evil past. Accession to the EU signifies an integral part of “becoming European,” because the organization was, after all, a Western European venture. As argued previously, EU membership also met the more concrete needs of post-socialist states, since the Union possessed considerable resources for rebuilding crumbling infrastructure. Once again, like private enterprises in a free-market economy, “[nation] branding campaigns were seen as inevitable by post-communist states and political elites as they found themselves more and more in the role of competitors for rather than regulators of global flows of capital, trade, and human migration.”[57] Accession to the EU, then, had a two-edged purpose for post-communist states, in that membership supplied much-needed economic assistance and also served as a vehicle for restoring these countries’ rightful place in the European family.

Fidesz and European Integration in Hungary

The 1998 Hungarian elections witnessed the rise of the Alliance of Young Democrats, also known as Fidesz, led by Viktor Orbán. Originally professing a liberal orientation, Fidesz shifted towards conservatism after a poor electoral showing in 1994 and in response to the consolidation of the Hungarian political left under the communist-successor MSZP. Similar to the MDF, Fidesz stressed the importance of Christian democracy and the nation, but it went a step further by defending the middle class from alleged attacks by left-wing elites.[58] As signaled in one of Orbán’s speeches in 1999, the party soon departed from the MDF’s centrism, which the prime minister declared could not “implement the changes for the future of the country.”[59] Seeing that the malintegrated society that was Hungary did not respond to the MDF, Fidesz pursued more drastic measures to set the country back on what it believed to be the right course.

In 2002, however, Fidesz lost the elections to the Socialists, who would lead the country through its accession to the EU two years later.[60] The lead-up to integration revealed Hungary’s underlying economic deficiencies, so Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány initiated a series of reforms in order to help the country catch up with the rest of the Union. The government took action to raise taxes, cut subsidies for public utilities, and institute fees for higher education and healthcare. But Hungary only descended further into the economic hole that it had dug for itself, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and reaching the highest deficit in Europe, at almost ten percent of its GDP, in 2006. That same year, the press leaked a private speech in which the prime minister admitted that he misinformed the electorate about the true state of the economy, and in 2008, a public referendum blocked any further reforms. These two events led to a collapse of the left-wing coalition and Gyurcsány’s resignation the next year. The successor government of Gordon Bajnai attempted to resume reforms, but with equally dismal results. His administration sought to implement the harshest austerity measures since the fall of communism, and the public voiced their opposition by voting out the MSZP in the 2010 elections.[61] While other factors were most certainly at play, the popular response confirms that the liberal elites did not act in accordance with what the majority of Hungarians wanted.

Once again, the failures of the Hungarian left allowed Fidesz to regroup and return to power. Emboldened by the ineffectiveness and corruption of the previous governments, Orbán positioned himself and his party as the true agents of reform and progress. Even the MDF, along with the transitional Hungarian Liberal Party (SZDSZ), was completely ushered out of the Hungarian National Assembly, a defeat that sealed what Orbán had proclaimed in 1998, saying, “We can’t be forced back into the past.”[62] The returning prime minister also set his sights on restoring Hungary to its former glory. “For decades we have let the nation, our pre-communist past and our thousand-year-old statehood to be disparaged [sic],” he wrote in 2007. “It has become customary to conceal shamefacedly our being Hungarian, our love for the country and the pride in our history.”[63] After Fidesz won the majority of seats in the parliament, Orbán took the advantage to launch his national crusade.

Simultaneously, however, Fidesz has not opposed the European Union—an inherently supranational organization—outright. Even before 2010, while Fidesz was still an opposition party, the Young Democrats worked openly and often with EU officials. For example, when Franco Frattini (then-European Commissioner of Justice, Freedom, and Security) visited Hungary in 2006, Fidesz representatives reported human rights violations and appealed to the EU’s obligation to address such gross misconduct in member states. Furthermore, as the official opposition party, Fidesz secured numerous seats in the European Parliament, increasing the party’s presence on the international stage. When Hungary served its turn in the Presidency of the EU in 2011, Prime Minister Orbán seized the opportunity to push conservative policy ideas that favored Hungary. Orbán also deferred to the Union when challenged on his economic policies, saying that his goals for cutting the budget deficit were originally dictated by the EU.[64] This reveals a larger trend within Orbán’s government, in that he has pragmatically turned to the EU for legitimization vis-à-vis his political opponents. More importantly, Fidesz’s strategy demonstrates that instead of the EU acting as a neutral arbiter for member states, it can serve as an equally effective platform to advance national interests.

In the context of dialectical functionalism, Orbán represents both a force of “revolutionary” opposition, to recall van den Berge, and a protector of societal equilibrium.[65] On the one hand, Fidesz has taken the MDF platform to a more radical extent, accentuating class differences and the importance of the nation, as a response to the liberal-left MSZP. On the other hand, Fidesz also operates within the current structure—that is, the EU—to effect change. Instead of openly criticizing the Union, the Young Democrats utilize Hungary’s member status to both promote their own objectives and to elevate themselves over other opposition parties in the National Assembly. As the country endeavored to integrate further, moderate transition parties such as the MDF were cast aside, and the system became more polarized. Such were the conditions that produced the strong conservative opposition in the form of Orbán and Fidesz.

The “New” Germany and the AfD

The late 1990s and early 2000s tested the resolve of the united Germany. In 1998, the SPD seized the general elections, and Gerhard Schröder became the German chancellor. Amidst the ongoing economic repercussions of unification and integration with the EU, the administration grappled with making the necessary reforms. Backed by the Green Party, the SPD barely garnered enough parliamentary votes to commit German military forces in Yugoslavia, and then in Afghanistan. In order to reinvigorate the economy, Schröder introduced new austerity measures known as the Hartz reforms, which severely cut welfare benefits in an attempt to spur employment. In 2004, the last installment of this legislation, called Hartz IV, once again triggered the Montagsdemonstrationen across the former East, which was hit particularly hard by the economic crisis. After the elections the following year, the CDU-CSU took over, with Angela Merkel as the new chancellor.[66]

The economic turbulence exacerbated the divide that persisted between the former East and West, as evidenced by the Ostalgie phenomenon. Derived from the German words for “east” (Ost) and “nostalgia” (Nostalgie), this concept is often defined as the longing of eastern Germans for the years lived under the GDR. However, anthropologist Dominic Boyer contends that Ostalgie drew from an older German national narrative. Citing memories of Bismarckian “blood and iron” (Blut und Eisen) and the Holocaust, modern society has condemned German nationalism as a symptom of “the German sickness” (die deutsche Krankheit), an alleged ethnic zeal for authoritarian domination and racial superiority. Such ethnic labeling increased after the Second World War, particularly among Germans themselves. Given the ideological (and later physical) divide between the FRG and the GDR, citizens deferred their nation’s authoritarian streak to the other side: Wessis pointed to the East’s totalitarian government, while Ossis believed that the capitalist, imperialistic West carried on the tradition of intrinsic German evilness. Therefore, in an odd twist of logic, they assigned “Germanness” to the opposite side of the political chasm. People from both East and West perceived their own “Germany” as a symbol of progress and the future, chiefly on account of an attachment to an international collective—the global proletariat for Easterners versus the liberal, cosmopolitan West for Westerners—that supplanted national identities and thus could stamp out oppressive Germanness. As long as there existed an “over there” upon which one could heap national shame, the consciences of Germans rested at ease.[67]  

Consequently, as unification approached, the fragile national psyches felt threatened, because the narrative of blaming the other could no longer apply in a consolidated Germany. As their half subsumed the East, western Germans continued the “othering” discourse, if only subconsciously, by drawing attention to the failure of the socialist GDR. Indeed, Boyer argues that, if Ostalgie existed in any real sense, Easterners were grieving the demise of what the GDR promised would be an egalitarian and perfect society.[68] Regardless of whether this was truly the case, the fact remains that the lifestyle to which many people had grown accustomed in the East quickly evaporated after unification. But Wessis did not criticize their eastern neighbors for lamenting a crushed dream, but instead for praising a nightmare that was all too real. Instead, as described by Michael Dreyer, Wessis imagined the GDR as an Unrechtsstaat, “a state in which the rule of law was superseded by political considerations and the police and Stasi permeated the very fabric of everyday life.” While this was true in many respects, Dreyer notes that this “evil empire” mentality was also extended to the citizens of the GDR as well as to the government.[69] Boyer similarly argues that the source of many Easterners’ trauma was “not the collapse of the GDR and its lifeworld but, rather, the discovery that postunification public narratives reduced the GDR to the prison camp of a criminal regime and reduced them to this camp’s abject inmates.”[70] Ostalgie, then, connotes not only a longing for the past, but also the struggle to appropriately account for an unjust history that could not be allowed to repeat itself.

In turn, the Ostalgie discourse has enabled western Germanelites to subdue people from the former East. Boyer argues that “the discourse on Ostalgie is itself symptomatic of a postunification West German utopia of East Germans’ natural affinity to the past, thus indicating, in the still animate logic of Cold War identification, that West Germans have a natural affinity to the future.”[71] That is, Ostalgie has been converted into a political weapon: Because of their Ossi “inmate” status, Easterners should not be allowed—should not be trusted—to have a say in the future of Germany, a country whose Western liberal-capitalist values triumphed once and for all over authoritarian socialism.[72] Put another way, history should not merely be written by the victors; it should be made by them. The Ostalgie narrative thus provides the perfect psychological justification for the same politicians and captains of industry who dominated the unification process to continue asserting their agenda over the Ossis. The East, then, has only transitioned from one oppressive government to another.     

In 2013, disaffected members of Chancellor Merkel’s center-right CDU founded the Alternative for Germany (AfD; Alternative für Deutschland). Initially, under the leadership of Bernd Lucke, an economics professor at the University of Hamburg, the party confined its platform to Euroscepticism. Much like Fidesz in Hungary, the AfD viewed with a wary eye the increasingly supranational character of the EU and protested financial bailouts of other Union members, at Germany’s expense, in the wake of the 2007-2009 global financial crisis. At its first congress in Berlin, the party officially committed itself to abolishing the euro, supported by a formidable network of economists, journalists, businesspeople, and political figures. In spite of its popular traction, the AfD garnered only 4.7% of the vote in the 2013 elections, preventing them from joining the Bundestag. Nevertheless, the party secured seven seats in the European Parliament the following year.[73]

As the Syrian refugee crisis intensified in 2015, however, the AfD took a more severe turn in its stance on immigration. Representing the party’s national conservative wing, Frauke Petry succeeded Lucke as chairperson, and she soon pressed for border closures, as well as the construction of additional refugee camps in the Middle East in order to keep migrants from entering Germany. The ideological shift under Petry emphasized the dominance of German values and, in the specific context of immigration, cultural assimilation. Thus began the AfD’s engagement in “culture war” (Kulturkampf) rhetoric, which galvanized German voters in the 2017 elections. The new campaign style was so successful that the AfD netted 12.6% of the electorate, thus situating itself as the new opposition party in the Bundestag.[74]

Interestingly, the AfD’s message fared particularly well in the former GDR states, even though the region, on the whole, receives fewer immigrants and possesses a smaller Muslim population than the West.[75] Across the six eastern Bundesländer, there was, on average, a 20% increase in votes for the AfD in 2017, compared to the results in 2013. In terms of nationwide voter demographics, the party drew support from working-class individuals who experienced economic hardship, as well as from middle-class Germans who felt “cultural discomfort” in the liberal, multicultural society that Merkel and others had aspired to build in the years since unification.[76] If one were to combine these factors, the resulting picture would show that citizens in the former East—a region that had endured economic turmoil and cultural alienation for almost three decades, due largely to Wessi influence—responded favorably to a party that promised to defend national economic interests and to prevent what it deemed a cultural upheaval by outsiders. It is also worth noting that many party leaders—including Petry, along with Alexander Gauland, André Poggenburg, and Björn Höcke—have come from or hold positions in eastern states such as Saxony, Brandenburg, and Thuringia.[77]

In light of the AfD’s strategy and electoral performance, more pieces of the dialectical functionalist puzzle fall into place. During the Cold War, when the East pitted itself against the West and vice versa, Germans used the language of difference in order to shift the historical guilt that they believed their nation bore. This dichotomous, “us-versus-them” mentality endured through unification and was, in fact, bolstered by the liberal FRG’s absorption of the socialist GDR. The lack of true integration in German society has given rise to the Ostalgie discourse, which frames Easterners as the children of a failed socialist utopia, denizens who cannot be trusted to guide a progressive, liberal republic. This has clearly been borne out in post-unification politics, since very few Ossis have reached the upper echelons of the federal government, or even positions of leadership in the former East.[78] “The domination of West Germans in the elites is still felt as cultural colonialism,” stated Thomas Krüger, President of the Federal Agency for Civil Education and the only Ossi to preside over a governmental agency that does not directly pertain to the East.[79] In response to the Western elites’ neglect of the East, many Eastern voters in 2017 signaled their belief that the AfD stood for their interests as German citizens and represented a force for change in national politics.


As illuminated by dialectical functionalism, national-populist movements symbolize the drastic action required to overturn the malintegration in Central and Eastern European societies. After the fall of communism, the MDF rose up to advocate real political and economic change in Hungary, in contrast to the parties of the left. However, its centrist views were soon eliminated from the national political discussion and replaced by those of the former Communist Party. Similarly, in East Germany, reform movements worked to transform the socialist government into one that truly safeguarded the freedom and prosperity of its people, only to be denied a seat at the negotiating table during the unification with the West. Consequently, more fundamentalist groups emerged in the place of Hungarian and German moderates, namely the right-wing Fidesz and AfD. In the face of the EU’s domination of the continent’s political and economic affairs, these groups claim that they will restore power to individual countries and their peoples.

This set of circumstances was created in large part by Western liberal elites. In their dedicated pursuit of total privatization, Western economists bulldozed more gradual methods of reform because those measures did not immediately align to capitalist standards. Consequently, CEES experienced severe economic distress for several years, which also undermined political stability. Liberal elites also stressed the importance of membership in their international project, the European Union, as the highest level of success that CEES could attain. But the EU—whether by design or simply in practice—has stripped member countries of their rights as free, self-determining states. Amid these changes, ordinary citizens have not been granted the opportunity to participate in the drastic transformation of their countries. For these reasons, liberalism has effectively hollowed out its own grave by attempting to enlarge its influence over Central and Eastern Europe.

The argument presented here is intended to be neither a defense of nor an attack on national populism. As Eatwell and Goodwin observe, “[we] need to understand national-populist voters better, not simply denounce them.”[80] Contrary to popular conceptions, national populists on the whole are not fascists or neo-Nazis. They do not seek to retreat to the days of ranting dictators and secret police agencies. National-populist movements do not resist change, as did socialist and liberal bureaucrats; but rather they endeavor to simply slow the rate of change in order to more effectively manage its impact on the various facets of society. They seek to preserve stability, allowing gradual changes without altering the positive elements of the national culture. In many ways, they advocate a return to what have been traditionally thought of as liberal principles, such as genuine democratic representation of the people.

Opposing societal forces will likely struggle back and forth ad nauseam, but it is the conflict between them that produces change. The question remains, then, as to what type of change will result. In an interview that took place in 2017, Francis Fukuyama—the same commentator who announced that the year 1989 marked “the end of history”—argued that modern democracy necessitates the control of elites.[81] The fact that society requires some form of order and direction cannot be denied. Moreover, in countries as large as the United States, for example, centralized authority is often warranted. However, when a society is led by insulated individuals who no longer put the needs and concerns of the people whom they represent above their own, then that society has not reached the end of history, but rather has opened the door to its own undoing.

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[1] Ronald Reagan, “Evil Empire Speech,” Voices of Democracy, accessed April 16, 2020,

[2] Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?”, The National Interest, no. 16 (1989): 4,

[3] The main theory driving post-communist economics was neoliberalism, a revival of classical liberalism and the laissez-faire approach championed by Adam Smith. This differs in important respects from “modern” liberalism, which seeks to address issues such as inequality and discrimination. But since both variants of liberalism influenced the development of post-communist states, and they have often coexisted in political thought, the author incorporates the two under the umbrella of “liberalism.” See Nicola Smith, “Neoliberalism,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., published June 28, 2019,

[4] Pierre L. van den Berghe, “Dialectic and Functionalism: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis,” American Sociological Review 28, no. 5 (1963): 696, 699,

[5] Ibid, 696-97.

[6] Ibid, 698.

[7] Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin, National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal

Democracy (London: Pelican, 2018), 48, Kindle.

[8] Eatwell and Goodwin, National Populism, xxi, 106, 108-109.

[9] Ibid, xxi-xxii.

[10] Ibid, xxii, 181.

[11] Ibid, xxiii, 224-25.

[12] Eatwell and Goodwin, National Populism, 79.

[13] Yoram Hazony, The Virtue of Nationalism (New York: Basic Books, 2018), 3, 40.

[14] Andrew C. Janos, “From Eastern Empire to Western Hegemony: East Central Europe under Two International Regimes,” East European Politics and Societies 15, no. 2 (2001): 222,

doi: 10.1177/0888325401015002002.

[15] Ibid, 223, 237.

[16] Eatwell and Goodwin, National Populism, 48.

[17] Carlile Aylmer Macartney et al., “Hungary,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., published October 15, 2019,

[18] László J. Kulcsár and Young-ok Yum, “One Nation, One Brand?: Nation Branding and Identity Reconstruction in Post-Communist Hungary,” in Branding Post-Communist Nations: Marketizing National Identities in the “New” Europe, ed. Nadia Kaneva (New York: Routledge, 2012), 200-201; Terry F. Buss, “Economic Development in Hungary: The Transition Years–1989 to 1998,” International Journal of Economic Development 2, no. 1 (2000): 16-18,

[19] Gergely Egedy, “Political Conservatism in Post-Communist Hungary,” Problems of Post-

Communism 56, no. 3 (2009): 43, doi: 10.2753/PPC1075-8216560304.

[20] József Antall, Modell és valóság, vol. 2 (Budapest: Atheneum, 1994), 45, quoted in Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 44.

[21] Ibid, 9-10, quoted in Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 45.

[22] Antall, Modell, 42, quoted in Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 45.

[23] Ibid, 35, quoted in Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 45.

[24] Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 45-46.

[25] Buss, “Economic Development,” 18.

[26] Piotr Kozarzewski and Maciej Bałtowski, “Change in the Ownership Policy Paradigm in Poland: State Control vs. Privatisation,” Acta Oeconomica 67, no. 1 (2017): 3, doi: 10.1556/032.2017.67.1.1; Stuart Shields, “How the East Was Won: Transnational Social Forces and the Neoliberalisation of Poland’s Post-Communist Transition.” Global Society 22, no. 4 (2008): 455, doi: 10.1080/13600820802366409.

[27] Jeffrey Sachs, “What is to be done?”, The Economist, January 13, 1990,

[28] Shields, “How the East Was Won,” 458.

[29] Ben Slay, “The Polish economic transition: outcome and lessons,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 33, no. 49-70 (2000): 54, 55, 60,

[30] Buss, “Economic Development,” 21-23.

[31] See János Kornai, The Road to a Free Economy (New York: W.W. Norton & Company).

[32] Office of the Historian, “A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: East Germany (German Democratic Republic),” U.S. Department of State, accessed April 20, 2020,

[33] Peter E. Quint, The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 11-13,

[34] Ibid, 15-16.

[35] Quint, Imperfect Union, 49-53.

[36] Ibid, 56-58, 61.

[37] Ibid, 57.

[38] Jens Reich, Rückkehr nach Europa: Zur neuen Lage der deutschen Nation (Munich: Carl Hanser, 1991), 221, quoted in Quint, Imperfect Union, 57.

[39] Quint, Imperfect Union, 59, 63-64; Ben Gook, “Backdating German neoliberalism: Ordoliberalism, the German model and economic experiments in eastern Germany after 1989,” Journal of Sociology 54, no. 1 (2018): 40, doi: 10.1177/1440783318759085.

[40] Quint, Imperfect Union, 144, 146-147.

[41] Quint, Imperfect Union, 148-49.

[42] Gook, “Backdating German neoliberalism,” 42.

[43] Quint, Imperfect Union, 151.

[44] Quint, Imperfect Union, 103, 105, 108-109, 113-114.

[45] Ibid, 104, 108-109.

[46] Quint, Imperfect Union, 66-67, 69.

[47] David F. Patton, “Monday, Monday: Eastern Protest Movements and German Party Politics since 1989,” German Politics 26, no. 4 (2017): 481-82, doi: 10.1080/09644008.2017.1365136.

[48] Quint, Imperfect Union, 69-70.

[49] Patton, “Monday,” 482-83.

[50] Quint, Imperfect Union, 71.

[51] Michael Dreyer, “The Ongoing Significance of East Germany and the Wende Narrative in Public Discourse,” in Virtual Walls?: Political Unification and Cultural Difference in Contemporary Germany, eds. Franziska Lys and Michael Dreyer (Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2017), 179, doi: 10.1017/9781787441682.

[52] Gook, “Backdating German neoliberalism,” 35.

[53] Matthew J. Gabel, “European Union,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., published January 31, 2020,

[54] Vaughan Miller, The EU’s Acquis Communautaire, House of Commons Briefing Paper no. 5944 (London: House of Commons Library, 2011), 2,; Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, “Accession Negotiations,” Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, accessed April 10, 2020,; Gabel, “European Union.”

[55] Shields, “From socialist Solidarity to neo-populist neoliberalisation? The paradoxes of Poland’s post-communist transition,” Capital & Class 31, no. 3 (2007): 163,; Umut Korkut, “Hungary,” in Life in Post-Communist Eastern Europe after EU Membership, eds. Donnacha O. Beachain, Vera Sheridan, and Sabina Stan (New York: Routledge, 2012) 74, 86,

[56] Nadia Kaneva, “Nation Branding in Post-Communist Europe: Identities, Markets, and Democracy,” in Branding Post-Communist Nations, ed. Nadia Kaneva (New York: Routledge, 2012), 5, 10.

[57] Kulcsár and Yum, “One Nation,” 197-198.

[58] Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 47.

[59] Viktor Orbán, 20 év, 1986–2006: Beszédek, írások, interjúk, ed. Szilárd Szõnyi (Budapest: Heti Válasz Kiadó, 2006), 181, quoted in Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 47.

[60] Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 48.

[61] Korkut, “Hungary,” 75-76, 82.

[62] Korkut, “Hungary,” 76; Orbán, 20 év, 283, quoted in Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 49.

[63] Orbán, Egy az ország (Budapest: Helikon, 2007), 94-95, quoted in Egedy, “Political Conservatism,” 51.

[64] Korkut, “Hungary,” 77-78, 86.

[65] Van den Berge, “Dialectic and Functionalism,” 698.

[66] Patton, “Monday,” 483; Gook, “Backdating German neoliberalism,” 43; “Timeline of Germany’s Green Party,” Reuters, published November 18, 2012,; David P. Conradt, “Social Democratic Party of Germany,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., published March 5, 2018,

[67] Dominic Boyer, “Ostalgie and the Politics of the Future in Eastern Germany,” Public Culture 18, no. 2 (2006): 369-370, doi: 10.1215/08992363-2006-08.

[68] Ibid, 371-72.

[69] Dreyer, “Ongoing Significance,” 169.

[70] Boyer, “Ostalgie,” 377.

[71] Ibid, 373.

[72] Ibid, 374, 378.

[73] Charles Lees, “The ‘Alternative for Germany’: The rise of right-wing populism at the heart of Europe,” Politics 38, no. 3 (2018): 299-301, doi: 10.1177/0263395718777718.

[74] Ibid, 304-306.

[75] Patton, “Monday,” 487.

[76] Lees, “‘Alternative for Germany,’” 301-303.

[77] Patton, “Monday,” 489.

[78] Ben Knight, “Angela Merkel last East German standing in new cabinet,” Deutsche Welle, September 2, 2018,; Knight, “East Germans still victims of ‘cultural colonialism’ by the West,” Deutsche Welle, January 1, 2017,

[79] Knight, “East Germans.”

[80] Eatwell and Goodwin, National Populism, 77.

[81] Alexander Görlach and Francis Fukuyama, “Francis Fukuyama: Democracy Needs Elites,” New Perspectives Quarterly, no. 34 (2017): 13, doi: 10.1111/npqu.12075.

Greyson Hoye
Greyson Hoye is a senior at Pacific Lutheran University, with majors in Global Studies, History, and German, as well as a minor in French. His previous academic research has concentrated on the Second World War and the Holocaust, but he now focuses primarily on the modern political structures of Eastern Europe and Russia as he prepares to pursue a career in international diplomacy. Greyson’s work has also been featured in the University of Alabama’s Crimson Historical Review.