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date: 19 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The process of joining the European Union (EU) has helped shape the transformation of the state after communism. In this chapter 1 consider the different trajectories of political change among EU-eligible post-communist states, and how these trajectories were formed by the nature of political competition after 1989. I explain how later EU leverage shaped domestic political competition by shifting the agendas of political parities, and also shaped domestic policy-making by weighing in on the reform of state institutions and the economy. I consider also the cases of Bulgaria and Romania, where the reform of the state has been insufficient, and the implications of the recent rollback of liberal democracy in Hungary. Finally, I sketch the trajectories of political change in the Western Balkan states and argue that the EU’s active leverage continues to have a democratizing effect on some candidate states in the region.

Keywords: state transformation, European Union, EU enlargement, political competition, corruption, post-communist states, Eastern Europe, East Central Europe, Western Balkans

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