© Università degli Studi di Padova - Credits: HCE Web agency
The author investigates the relationship between nationalism and democratisation of citizenship from the end of the Cold War up to the EU enlargement comprising 25 countries.
Generally, nationalism in Eastern Europe has been written about or discussed as immature democracy. However, recent neo-nationalism cannot be explained by this connotation. Furthermore, it may be explained by the effect of the introduction of democracy, or more precisely, by the introduction of democratic procedure into multinational states or a society of heterogeneous values. So the democratic system worked another style, a dark side of democracy, ethnic cleansing, which Michael Mann investigates. Hence, the «countries between» Germany and Russia historically and traditionally always had to have a strong spirit for freedom and liberal nationalism, because only liberalism against oppression by large autocratic powers saved their nations and allowed them to continue.
Yet, nowadays even democratic societies in Western Europe experience wide gaps between the interests of the national elite and that of citizens. Citizens decry the government or politics, and populism or strong xenophobia (not only against their government but even stronger antagonism against foreigners, especially immigrants) which grows quickly, as does radical nationalism.
This is explained as the deficit of democracy. It has proven true if we investigate the framework of a country as perpendicular relations. But when comparing other countries, if we investigate laterally, it is not only the deficit of democracy, but rather «participatory democracy». Participatory democracy complicates issues, because the «civic interests» of countries oppose and interfere with each other. From the Western point of view, immigration needs to be prohibited or limited in order to save their own countries from unemployment, or to protect security and order. But seen from the Eastern point of view, it looks like Western countries are following a double standard and interfere with their own rules, because the free movement of people, goods, money, services, and information is the very first subject for attaining EU membership. Eastern citizens also complain about the CAP subsidies, in which corporate interests are protected. The effect is that governmental parties have been defeated in many countries and populist parties have obtained a high percentage of votes, not only from former EU members but also from the 10 new member countries.
Why is nationalism, populism or antagonism rising at present among citizens of the enlarged Europe? The article addresses this theme.