Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Paula Pickering

Committee Members

Clayton Clemens

Laurie Koloski


During the European Union accession negotiations, all post-communist Eastern European countries that became EU members established democratic institutions. Even though some new member states formed more strongly consolidated democratic institutions than others, all established institutions were sufficiently democratic to gain EU membership. Since acceding to the EU, some countries have continued to deepen their democracies, while others’ democracies have stagnated or backtracked. In countries that backslid, some politicians only harmed the quality of democracy in the short-term, while others spurred democratic backsliding lasting beyond just one electoral cycle. This thesis examines the interaction between institutional engineering, political culture, and elite strategies to examine how these factors affect the likelihood of democratic backtracking in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovenia. By creating a theoretical framework that uses these three factors to predict the likelihood of democratic backtracking, this thesis seeks to improve understandings of why levels of democratic consolidation differ across East European countries that followed virtually the same institutional development process.

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