Poor governance and manipulation through fake news in the region as a strategy of predatory elites

2019 ANNUAL REPORT: The revival of populism in Eastern Europe

Both the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 are marked by crucial elections in the Republic of Moldova, Estonia, Ukraine, Georgia and Macedonia and in May 2019, we will have the general election for the European Parliament. These are some of the most important events to come in our region. All these votes are affected by the two major symptoms of poor governance promoted from the East: (a) Clientelism as a successful political model, developed ever more liberally as an alternative to the rule of law – both directly from public money, and through more subtle schemes, for example in energy; and (b) systematic misinformation through new or traditional media. A relies on B, and B serves A, consolidating each other in bad governance.

The EFOR 2019 report outlines the results of a series of projects of the organisation and its partners on both components: measuring clientelism and combating strategic political misinformation. Clientelism can be powered either directly from public funds, as it is the case for financial transfers made by local authorities to the local governments for investment – which have been documented by us throughout recent years; or affecting strategic sectors through more subtle schemes, such as energy.


The section on clientelism was published as a part of the “Combating Clientelism in Local Investments and Financial Transfers” (CC-LIFT) project, financed by the Open Society Foundations. The opinions expressed in writing or electronic publications do not necessarily represent the position of the sponsor.

The chapter on Energy was published with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy. The opinions presented in this report belong to the authors.

The fake news phenomenon in Romania and Moldova has been explored within the framework of the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation project “Screening and Counter raising Alternative Realities in Media” (SCAR-Med).

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