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Can Civic Education Make a Difference for Democracy? Hungary and Poland Compared

TitleCan Civic Education Make a Difference for Democracy? Hungary and Poland Compared
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsFesnic, Florin N.
Conference Name3rd European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research
Keywordsauthoritarianism, civic education, democracy, Hungary, Poland, political socialization, voting behaviour
Abstract

Civic education can have a significant impact on democracy. I offer evidence for this assertion by comparing the effects of the widely different choices made in the early 1990’s by two post-communist countries, Poland and Hungary. Initially, the effects of civic education were confined to teenagers; later, as generational replacement started to have an effect, we see an impact on the politics of the two countries. The success of civic education in Poland and its failure in Hungary is illustrated by the differences in youth’s voting patterns: throughout the last decade, the vote of Polish youth has consistently been less authoritarian than the vote of older Poles, unlike in Hungary, where the pattern was reversed. Ultimately, these developments likely had an impact on democracy: we see democratic progress in Poland and democratic regression in Hungary.

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