The development of political systems in post-communist countries
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The political development of post-communist Europe has generally been seen as a relatively successful march toward democracy. This chapter seeks to flesh out this understanding by examining the region through the prism of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) dataset. V-Dem allows us to look at many underlying dimensions of democratic development, including its liberal, participatory, egalitarian and deliberative components. The chapter therefore examines the main post-communist countries of the EU across various V-Dem indices and measures, and discusses what is new in the dataset that enhances our existing narrative about democratic change in the region. While unsurprisingly V-Dem displays some of the same cross-national differences (between e.g. Czech Republic and Slovakia) that we see in other indices, it also shows more precisely where these gaps actually lie. The chapter concludes with reflections on how V-Dem’s institutionalist approach to democracy needs to be coupled with attitudinal measures in order to understand the latest phase of democratic backsliding in post-communist Europe.