The Impact of Active Leverage I: Making Political Systems More Competitive, 1994–8

Milada Anna Vachudova

in Europe Undivided

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780199241194
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602382 | DOI:
 The Impact of Active Leverage I: Making Political Systems More Competitive, 1994–8

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Once the EU developed its active leverage, noncompliance with EU membership requirements became visible and costly for governments in candidate states. This chapter illustrates the effectiveness of the EU’s active leverage in compelling Hungary to moderate its foreign policy towards neighbouring states, and it explores the EU’s vigorous attempts to improve the treatment of ethnic minorities in Romania and Slovakia. The EU’s active leverage was usually ineffective in directly pressuring ruling elites in Romania, Bulgaria, and Slovakia to change key domestic policies. But the relationship between the EU and credible future members gradually changed the domestic balance of power in illiberal states against rent-seeking elites by making the political systems more competitive. It did so by working through society to change the information environment and the institutional environment to the advantage of more liberal political forces. This helped undermine the ‘democratic monopoly’ that had allowed rent-seeking elites to use ethnic nationalism and economic populism to win and maintain power. In states where no united, organized liberal opposition existed before 1989, the EU’s active leverage—in cooperation with other international actors and in synergy with domestic forces—helped to create one, shaping the more liberal political parties that took power in 1996 in Romania, in 1997 in Bulgaria and in 1998 in Romania.

Keywords: Balladur Plan; civil society; collective rights; conditionality; ethnic minorities; ethnic minority rights; focal point for cooperation; information environment; institutional environment; media; Stability Pact

Chapter.  18784 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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