The article explores patterns of democratic backsliding in postaccession Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on "constitutional retrogression" in Bulgaria. It shows that the political marginalization of the middle class has led to diminished social demand for the rule of law, which has in tum facilitated the silencing of independent media and the capture of key components of the judiciary by oligarchic networks bent upon embedding economic illiberalism in Bulgarian society. This article also introduces the concept of "soft decisionism," a personalistic form of governing practiced by incumbent Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.