Democratic Paralysis in Eastern Europe

In this presentation CU Boulder Professor Svet Derderyan explores the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in inducing reforms in the democratic development in Eastern European countries in the years after the end of communism. The main question he raises is how US and EU involvement in the area has impacted CSOs' capacity to induce democratic reforms. The presentation shows that in the 1990s and early 2000s development funding from the US and the EU amplified the impact of CSOs on democratic development but then, paradoxically, these countries’ accession to the EU undermined CSOs’ significance. 

Dr. Derderyan identifies two causal logics behind the dynamic of pre-accession strengthening and post accession weakening of pro-democracy CSOs. Before accession, CSOs took advantage of empowerment opportunities, such as more funding options from the US and the EU’s encouragement of collaboration of CSOs and governments. In making this argument Dr. Derderyan also demonstrates the specific mechanisms that CSOs employed to effect actual reforms in an area directly related to democratic consolidation – anti-corruption. After accession to the EU, however, the US embarked on a gradual path of withdrawal from the area, assuming that now the EU will provide the bulk of the funding for pro-democracy CSOs. The EU’s bureaucratic procedures for funding, however, turned out to be essentially dysfunctional, paralyzing CSO’s capacities to induce pro-democratic reforms the way they used to. At the same time, Russia saw an opportunity in the US withdrawal and the EU’s dysfunction in the late 2000s, and successfully started funding CSOs delegitimizing and corrupting the democratic process. 

Tuesday, April 16 at 12:30pm to 1:30pm


Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE), W313