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The Eastern European Spring

December 9, 2014

The Eastern European Spring
Voters Tilt Toward Pro-EU, Anti-Corruption Candidates
By Mitchell A. Orenstein and Bojan Bugaric
Foreign AffairsDECEMBER 8, 2014
On November 16, when the Romanian people elected as president Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German who ran a vigorous campaign against corruption, they shattered a number of illusions about politics in eastern Europe. Since the end of the Cold War, Western analysts and media have portrayed eastern Europe as a region dogged by a xenophobic nationalism, where uncivilized voters are quick to turn to ethno-nationalist parties in times of trouble. Although Hungary’s recent slide into authoritarianism conforms to this narrative, Iohannis’ victory tells another story—as do recent elections in several other postcommunist states.

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