DEMOCRATIZATION IN POST-COMMUNIST EASTERN EUROPE
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Democratization in Post-communist Eastern Europe
The process of regaining democracy and building democracies in post communism Europe is not simple mainly due to the uncertainty surrounding the process, which affects the strategies of transition. These uncertainties we a result of several factors like the absence of a democratic past and the extraordinary penetration of state socialism. In some countries, high tension of democratization, national building, growth of capitalism and change in international relations impeded the process. In other countries however, the process was simpler due to absence of military in the transition and the presence of powerful opposition that gained power due to mobilization against the regime. In countries like Poland, Hungary and Slovenia, collaboration of reform communists with an opposition led to democracy building. Countries with lower democratization uncertainty had a sharp transition from the communist past. Foundation of elections that gave opposition strength, construction of democratic institutions, and introduction of in-depth economic reforms led to the development of the new state. Democratization in military engaged countries was difficult, and it involved mass mobilization against the regimes instead of focus being nation building. Countries like Baltic counties, Slovenia and Poland recognize the strength of mass mobilizations in the transition process. Mobilization helped to reduce uncertainty by influencing preferences of communists as well as dividing power between the communists and the opposition. The process of democratization was different I the various countries and while some depended on mass mobilization to change the regime, others used state disintegration through opposition Twenty years after regime change in the Eastern Europe, establishment of liberal democracy is only in a few post-communist countries. In other former communist countries, political transformation have not take the best momentum and have either led to partial democracies or a return to authoritarian regimes. A general assembly of the Club of Madrid held a meeting in 2005 in Prague to assess the state of democracy in post communism Europe and came up with several findings. The meeting evaluated political lessons from the region and reviewed reform policy measures relevant to promotion of democracy in post-communist Eastern Europe According to the report on the state of democracy in pos-communist eastern and southern Europe, there is a divergence in political outcomes across the Eastern Europe region. Post-communism countries that joined the European Union have made a good progress in political ad economic dimensions. These countries have good working market economies and their democracy institutions are similar to those in western democracies. Those that have not joined the EU have lower performance levels in similar indices. From the study on the status of democracy, there is a growing split of the two groups of countries in post-communism Europe. Nations that joined the European Union have made comprehensive reforms in developing their states, economies and welfare systems. They are wealthier with fast growing economies and low levels of income disparities. They also benefit from liberal democratic standards safeguarded by a consolidated democratic system. In comparison, their counterparts are poorer, with economic difficulties, coupled by inequality and massive corruption and an increasing authoritarianism A cross-sectional comparison to the process of democratic consolidation shows a split into two groups, one with a more advanced democracy while the other has a lagging democracy with semi-informed and authoritarian states. In the democratic consolidated countries, the extent of rights and liberties matched the level enjoyed in western countries and the stabilization of the democratic...
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Ekiert Grzegorz, Kubik Jan &Milada Anna
Heinrich Boll Stiftung. Twenty Years after Post-Communist Countries and European Integration. Brussels: Heinrich Boll Stiftung. 2009.
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