Eastern Europe: A Crisis of Confidence in Capitalism?

  • March 05, 2009

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany caused a stir at last weekend's European Union summit in Brussels, warning his fellow leaders that they should not allow the current economic crisis to create "a new Iron Curtain" dividing the continent. Gyurcsany is hardly alone in thinking that the financial meltdown poses a serious challenge to European solidarity, and in particular, many observers are worried about the social and political stability of Eastern European nations, several of which have been hit especially hard by the crisis.

For instance, Forbes columnist and NYU professor Nouriel Roubini -- widely lauded as one of the few people who saw the worldwide financial collapse coming -- warns that the economic downturn may "even call into question the economic and political model Eastern European countries have followed since the 1990s."

Survey research shows that in recent years support for the free-market system has been on the rise in Eastern Europe, especially in countries such as Poland that have enjoyed impressive economic growth. However, compared with other regions of the world -- and in particular, compared with their Western European counterparts -- Eastern Europeans embrace free markets somewhat tepidly.

Read the full report Eastern Europe: A Crisis of Confidence in Capitalism? on the Pew Research Center's Web site.