The end of the backsliding paradigm? Avoiding reverse “transitology” in Central and Eastern Europe

02 April 2020, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


This paper critiques some of the underlying assumptions of what we call the “backsliding paradigm”. Mirroring Thomas Carothers’s (2002a) famous critique of the “transition paradigm”, we argue that the current debate on democratic regression in Central and Eastern Europe runs the risk of becoming a “reverse transition paradigm” as it presents some of the same limitations. We discuss five such limitations as an invitation for other scholars to engage in debate on how we can study (un) democratic developments in the region in a broader way, accounting for the range of different, complex and even paradoxical trajectories its countries display.


Central and Eastern Europe
Democratic transition


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Comment number 1, Licia Cianetti: Jan 14, 2021, 09:16

An updated version of this working paper has been published as "The End of the Backsliding Paradigm" on Journal of Democracy 32 (1) 2021.