Democratization is a complex process that entails both critical choices of new institutions, and the rooting of those institutions in the societal ethos. Much of the literature on democratic transition, consolidation and Europeanization has been dominated by the study of legal and institutional crafting, especially concerning the post-communist and post-Soviet countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), where not only political but also economic and social institutions had to be created in the process of the fundamental transformations taking place after 1989. However, the footprint of a healthy democracy cannot be measured only in terms of institutional performance. It has to also include citizens’ attitudes to and engagement with the new institutions, and, in fact, a general change of mentality that refl ects their attachment to the new system. It is people’s attachment to democratic values that may keep governments in check and preclude them from slipping toward populist and antidemocratic measures, when the possibility and temptation to reshape democratic institutions arise.
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