July 1, 2010, 10:23 a.m.
The end of the Cold War was marked by euphoric optimism regarding the spread of democracy in Central Europe. Unfortunately, initial progress towards democracy has been followed by a rollback in freedom and deterioration in democratic institutions. Freedom House has recently released the 2010 edition of their annual Nations in Transit report, which tracks democratic developments and setbacks of 29 countries in the former Communist states of Europe and Eurasia.
Nations in Transit 2010 is the 14th edition of Freedom House’s comprehensive, comparative study of democratic development in 29 countries from Central Europe to Eurasia. The overarching conclusion is that 2009 was a year of broad, cross-regional pressures on democratic developments: scores declined for 14 of the 29 countries. Six new EU member states, a number of which confronted rising nationalism, experienced declines, while one experienced gains. In the non-Baltic former Soviet Union, the ratings for six countries eroded, and one improved. And, in the Balkans, three countries improved and two saw their scores regress. The downward trends in national democratic governance, judicial framework and independence, electoral process and corruption noted in previous editions remained a concern in 2009. Most worrying, however, is the increased number of rating declines for independent media: 10 countries regressed in media independence in 2009, half of those in new EU member states