La corta marcha del populismo en Europa Central

Un espectro se cierne sobre los nuevos miembros de la Unión Europea en Europa central, el espectro del nacionalismo populista. El Partido de la Ley y la Justicia (PiS) acaba de ganar las elecciones parlamentarias y presidenciales en Polonia, mientras que fuerzas populistas y nacionalistas podrían ganar en las elecciones que se celebrarán el año próximo en Hungría, la República Checa y Eslovaquia.

Estos son acontecimientos de suma importancia. Durante 15 años Europa central ha sido el estudiante modelo de la democratización. Ahora, según el ex Presidente checo Vaclav Havel, la región podría quedar atrapada en una "atmósfera sofocante". Incluso el propio sucesor de Havel, Vaclav Klaus ataca el multiculturalismo y el declive del Estado-nación europeo tradicional. ¿Qué pasó?

Paradójicamente, la UE --a la que se ve como garantía de estabilidad y progreso-- es en sí misma parte del problema. Atraídos por la promesa de la membresía, los países que ingresaron a la UE el año pasado atravesaron 15 años de cambios sociales, económicos, jurídicos y políticos cuya envergadura no tiene precedentes en la historia moderna europea. Las instituciones públicas se modernizaron aceleradamente, se adoptó la democracia política y se creó una economía de mercado estándar. Pero se ejerció una enorme presión sobre la gente común para que se ajustara de manera rápida y en ocasiones dolorosa.

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