elections in bulgaria Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

What Trump’s Win Means for Eastern Europe

Donald Trump could be dismissed as an eccentric if his foreign-policy proposals did not threaten to unravel crucial alliances and destabilize the international order. His promise to be "unpredictable" is especially troublesome for global geopolitics, and in Eastern Europe, all geopolitics is existential.

WARSAW – The rule of economic liberalism in the West is leading to the demise of political liberalism. A growing number of key countries are experiencing not elections, but plebiscites on liberal democracy – plebiscites decided by the votes of those who have lost out from liberal democracy. In the United States, Donald Trump’s election as president is a punishment to an establishment that disregarded the demands of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests.

The establishment’s next challenge will be to hold on in Italy, where a December 4 constitutional referendum could decide Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s fate. That vote will be a prelude to France’s presidential election in the spring, where a victory for the far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen would almost certainly bring about the definitive collapse of the European Union, if not of the entire geopolitical West.

However those votes turn out, Brexit and Trump prove that liberal democracy has ceased to be the canon of Western politics. And that has far-reaching implications. How can “swing states” like Poland achieve liberal democracy now that the Western point of reference has disappeared? Eastern Europe has never benefited when political conditions in the West have deteriorated.