Attacks on opposition parties, the press, and civil society organizations are becoming the norm in Central and Eastern Europe as the spread of illiberal politics undermines the foundations and prospects for democracy, according to Nations in Transit 2018, the 23rd edition of Freedom House’s annual report on democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Eurasia.

“Illiberal politics are becoming the new normal in Europe,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Government-led smear campaigns against civil society groups, journalists, and the political opposition were pioneered in Russia and Central Asia, but they are increasingly common across the region. This is no longer a problem we can claim is limited to one or two countries. To protect democracy, leaders need to confront attacks on democratic principles, especially when those attacks are close to home.”

“What is happening in Central and Eastern Europe can’t be separated from what is happening in Europe as a whole,” Abramowitz said. “No one is shielded from the normalization of illiberal ideas.”


  • In 2018, Nations in Transit registered the broadest score declines in the project’s 23-year history: 19 of the 29 countries assessed had declines in their overall Democracy Scores. For the second year in a row, there are more Consolidated Authoritarian Regimes than Consolidated Democracies.
  • Poland recorded the second-largest Democracy Score decline in the history of the report. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s revolutionary takeover of the judicial system, politicization of public…