A Cross-National Comparison of Nationalism in Austria, the Czech and Slovac Republics, Hungary, and Poland



The transition to democracy in Eastern Europe after the breakdown of communist regimes was challenged by ethnic and national tensions. Nationalist sentiments and traditional patterns of ethnic intolerance were almost immediately revitalized. The analysis presented here concerns nationalist orientation in several of these countries in the context of ideology and social origin, which form links among nationalist identification, ethnic intolerance, democratic and economic orientation, and social class position. In 1996, representative national surveys were carried out in Hungary, the Czech and Slovak republics, and Poland. The study was then extended to Austria, where, like in other Western democracies, nationalistic, xenophobic, and rightist-radical attitudes have emerged. Analyses of the attitude structures (structural equation models) showed that different types of nationalism have developed. In post-communist countries—with the exception of the Czech Republic—anticapitalist feelings are strongly correlated with nationalism and ethnic intolerance. Such attitudes are held by the lower classes, yet this form of antiliberalism is not directed against democracy. In Austria, a classical “underclass authoritarianism” exists but remains independent of economic ideology. This is typical of the “new right” in Europe: a “modernized” brand of fascism in which neoliberal ideology, instead of anticapitalist resentments, is combined with traditional value patterns.