The Eastern European Spring
Foreign Affairs - 12/08/2014
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.