The countries of Central and Eastern Europe, once leaders in the third wave of global democratization, leading to their membership in the European Union and NATO, have lately seen a sharp democratic decline and a rise of nationalist politics. In response, CIPE is working to reinvigorate the region’s democratic trajectory, partnering with networks of pro-democracy and pro-market reformers in civil society and the private sector in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. CIPE and its partners are analyzing the reasons that democracy in the region has encountered challenges, including failures of democratic governance to deliver opportunity for all, and a lack of follow-through on promised reforms over the years.
At the same time, CIPE has seen genuine interest in reasserting the commitment to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. CIPE and its partners have convened workshops bringing together reformers to draft a Declaration in Support of Democracy, which offers extensive recommendations for ways that civil society, business and governments in Central and Eastern Europe can address critical issues. Transatlantic interest in renewing support for democracy in Central and Eastern Europe was evidenced by a Helsinki Commission Congressional briefing, in which CIPE and its partners presented the results of their work. Finally, CIPE and its partners are working to identify and promote ways in which businesses in Central and Eastern Europe can support local civil society initiatives, particularly with an emphasis on transparency and good governance, which will both help ensure lasting support for NGOs in the region, and underscore the importance that the region’s private sector leaders place on a thriving democratic climate.