Since the collapse of communism in 1989, two dominant political orders have been established in Eastern Europe: nationalist populism and social democracy. This paper argues that the division of Eastern Europe into a nationalist-populist South and a social democratic North is the result of the evolution of two different types of political cultures and political institutions. These two types of political cultures and institutions, which I call “traditional” and “civic,” arose as a result of different historical experiences. The paper argues that traditional political cultures and institutions are the legacies of political subjugation and backward socio-economic conditions, while civic political cultures and institutions arose as a result of greater political autonomy and industrialization. The paper concludes that, by suppressing democratic norms and perpetuating a vast network of patronage, Slovakia's traditional legacy has facilitated the rise of a nationalist-populist regime.

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