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Democracy is under attack in post-Wall Europe – but the spirit of 1989 is fighting back | Timothy Garton Ash

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and Europe’s velvet revolutions, a new generation is standing up to the populists

Imagine someone who had witnessed the liberation of western Europe in 1945 returning in 1975, only to find the dictators coming back. That’s ratherhow it feels revisiting central Europe 30 years after the velvet revolutions of 1989.

Earlier this year, I sat in a hotel bar in Budapest with an old anti-communist dissident friend, János Kis, who calmly described the regime of prime minister Viktor Orbán to me as an autocracy. Yet it was Kis who first introduced me to Orbán, back in 1988, presenting the then 25-year-old student as a bright light of a new generation of young liberal democrats. At a rally in Gdańsk in June, I heard European council president Donald Tusk call on his fellow Poles to learn from the example of the Solidarity movement of the 1980s in opposing the country’s nationalist populist Law and Justice party government. Yet Law and Justice triumphed again this month in a general election.

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