Nationalism and conservative populism in the CEE bloc : a political economy and historical institutional approach
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|The chapter offers nationalism and populism in Central Europe viewed from the perspective of historical institutionalism. We consider the process of the formation of independent nation-states in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in the 19th century to be crucial. Which groups played a major role in gaining independence? What were their interests? We argue that their aspirations were modernisation, from which they hoped for prosperity, and activism, i.e. control over their own state and its position in Europe. This was to be achieved by winning the ethnic conflict against 'foreign' elites at home and abroad, and by modernising the state by emulating and catching up with the West. The modern history of these countries is then a Cimrmanian alternation of two elements: the element of over-expectation and the element of over-disappointment. Neither the gain of their own nation-state and the shedding of foreign elites, nor the socialist modernisation and emancipation of the popular classes, nor the zealous economic transformation, nor even membership of the club of Western European states, has brought Western prosperity or even a truly equal status in Europe. And especially not for those social groups who stood to gain national independence and feel, as a result, that they are the sole rightful owners of their states. It is they who have little to gain and quite a lot to lose from the current priority projects of Western Europe, such as the green economy, Industry 4.0 and equal opportunities for minorities of all kinds.