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Wiley Royal Institute of International Affairs

Democratization in Central and East European Countries Author(s): Mary Kaldor and Ivan Vejvoda

Source: International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), Vol. 73, No. 1 (Jan

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Democratizationin central and eastEuropean countries



Thepolitical systems that characterize the ten newly democratizing countries ofcentral and easternEurope are examined. Drawing a distinctionbetween formal and substan- tivedemocracy, the authors discuss the development ofkey facets of democratic practice in thecountries of the region. A finalsection draws out some of the policy implications oftheirfindingsfor governments and Europeaninstitutions.

The miseryof EasternEurope's small


causes such greatsuspicion and irrita-

tion in Western European observers.[This] leads many people to conclude that the


.. .should be abandoned to its




inability to consolidate

itselfis not due to its inherentlybarbarian nature, but to a seriesof unfortunatehistor-

ical processeswhich squeezed it offthe main course of European consolidation

We ...

should not give up on the idea of consolidatingthis region if forno otherreason than

for the factthat today,after 30 yearsof greatconfusion, we can clearlysee the course

of consolidation;after the passingof mutualhatreds, occupations, civil strife,and geno-

This articleis a revisedversion of a textoriginally written as a projectreport for the European

Commissionin Brussels.Thisresearch project was undertakenin collaborationwith the European

Commissionand theCouncil of Europe, by theSussex European Institute, University of Sussex. The aim

of theproject was to assessthe process of democratizationin those CEECs eligiblefor EU membership

and theextent to whichthese countries met the political criteria for membership.The ten central and east

Europeancountries studied in theproject were Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic,

Slovakia,Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria. The projectcoordinators commissioned a paper on

each of thesecountries by researchersfrom the respective countries.The country reports (an integralpart

of theproject report) were written by Andras Boz6ki (CentralEuropean University, Budapest, Hungary);

MartinButora (University of Trnava, Slovakia); K estutisGirnius (Vilnius, Lithuania; RFE, Prague);(Zdenek

Kavan(University of Sussex,Brighton, UK), co-authoron theCzech Republic;Rumyana Kolarova

(Universityof Sofia,Bulgaria); Marcin Kr6l (Graduate School for Social Research,Warsaw, Poland);Tonci

Kuzmanic(University of Ljubljana,Slovenia); Alina Mungiu Pippidi (University of Bucharest, Romania);

MartinPalous (Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic),co-author on theCzech Republic;Andris

Runcis (Universityof Riga,Latvia; and Juri Ruus (UniversityofTartu, Estonia).

In thearticle and thefootnotes we referto theseten 'country reports' and use examplesfrom them to

illustratesome of our arguments.Tables

I and 2 arean attemptto summarizesome of our

findings. They

are'snapshots' of thecurrent state of affairs up to NovemberI996, andlike all suchsuccinct presentations

are an oversimplification. The frameworkof thetables is ours,while the content of the 'boxes' draws on

thecountry reports and on interviewswith their authors.

We wouldlike to thankall of theabovementioned

colleagues as wellas KarolyGruber, assistant on the

project,for a trulycollaborative effort. Responsibility for the article, of course,lies entirely with ourselves.

Ilt.ernlationadl Affairs 73, I (I997)



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MaryKaldor and Ivan Vejvoda


.. .We mustmake sure only that heavy-handed and violentattempts at solu-

tionsdo notreturn the filthy tide toward our region. Of courseconsolidation can also

be thwarted; after all, it is notan elementalprocess that irresistibly takes over a region,

but a delicate,circumspect,

and easilyderailed human endeavour facing the forces of

fear,stupidity and hatred.However, it shouldbe emphasizedthat the consolidation of

thisregion isfeasible.'

The countriesof centraland easternEurope (CEEC) finallyseem to be on the

'course of European consolidation'.Despite the optimismof the Hungarian

historian,Istvan Bibo, afterthe Second WorldWar, expressedin the passage

fromI946 quoted above,they were pushed offcourse, yet again, for more than

  • 40 years.Now the CEECs are in the seventhyear of'consolidation' and there

existssomething to be consolidated.The political stabilizationof the


and the consolidation of the newly emerged democratic regimes of the

CEECs is,in spiteof the manychallenges they are facing,not only feasiblebut

an ever-growingreality. In the search for democraticinstitutions, rules and

proceduresthe main internalobstacle remainsthe absence of a democratic

political culture,while externallythe key question is the willingnessof the

West to provide help throughthis precarious phase duringwhich the danger

of a relapseinto formsof totalitarianism, authoritarianism and populism lurks

in the background.

Time is a crucial factorin thisprocess of 'democraticinvention',2 as is the

internationalpolitical and economic environment.An overwhelmingbut sim-

plisticpopular perceptionin the CEECs afterI989 was that democracywas

synonymouswith a 'return to Europe'. In fact, the geographical barriers

imposed byYalta were not the only ones to be overcome.The political,eco-

nomic and psychologicalpractices that evolved during the 40 years of com-

munismwere going to provea fargreater impediment to an early'return'than

seemed to be the case in I989. Moreover,the trialsand tribulationsof democ-

racy in theWest have a directimpact on the image and influenceof democ-

racticideas in the CEECs.

While it is generallyargued that the institutional,formal prerequisites for

democracyhave been broadlyfulfilled in the ten CEECs under consideration,

it is more difficultto assessin such a clear mannerthe level of consolidationof

democraticbehaviour, or of the fledglingdemocratic political culture, that has

been attained.It seems that,whatever their mutual differences, all CEECs have


beyond the point of a returnto the ancienregime, though in some (in par-

ticular,Slovakia and Romania) therehave been menacingsigns of a willingness

on thepart of the democraticallyelected majorities to transformthemselves into

a contemporaryvariant of what Tocqueville called regimes of 'democratic

  • I Istvan Bib6, 'The distress[misery] of east European small states',in Dem)iocracy,

ret'olutiot, self-determfinlation:

selectedtvrititngs, ed., Karoly Nagy (Social Science Monographs; Boulder, CO, Oxford:Atlantic Research

and Publications,High Lakes; NewYork: Columbia UniversityPress, I99I).

  • 2 Claude Lefort,L'imwenttiotn dt'emt(ocratique-les lim)fites

de la dom)finiationi

totalitaire (Paris: Fayard,I99I).


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Democratizationin centraland eastEuropean countries

despotism'.3The questionarises as to whetherthese two particularlyfragile new

democraticpolities will find the internalpolitical energyand the necessary

externalsupport and pressureto overcomethese difficulties. Some authorscon-

tend thatwe are onlywitnessing a 'mirageof democracy'where thereis 'reason

to suppose thatthe post-communistworld findsa suitableoption in a semiau-


[in which the CEECs] may embracesomewhat harsher and


more centralisedpolitical practices than can be foundin Western democracies'.4

In thisarticle, we put forwardthe argumentthat the politicalsystems which

characterizethe CEECs constitutea particularvariant of democracy that is

specificto thispart of thisworld; we argue thatit is possibleto talkabout a sui

generispost-communist political model

which is influencedby the legacy of

communismand, at the same time,by both the strengthsand weaknessesof

contemporaryWestern democracy. In orderto develop thisargument, we draw

a distinctionbetween formaland substantivedemocracy which enables us to

assesscritically the processof democratizationin termsof both formalcriteria

and what we considerto be substantivefeatures of democracy.The resultis a

more differentiatedunderstanding of the process of democratizationas it is

experiencedby individualCEECs. Our conclusionsabout the extentto which

individual CEECs fit this model of democratizationare based on a research

project in

which individualcase-studies of ten CEECs were undertaken(for

detailssee unnumberedfootnote above). In the finalsection, we draw out some

of the policy implicationsfor governments and European institutions.

In October I992 Elemer Hankiss,Hungarian sociologistand firstpost-I989

Director of Hungarianstate television, commented that, if i989 was the annus

mirabilis, then I 990 was the annusesperantiae,

I 99 I the annusmiserabilis and I 992

the annusdesillusionis or realismis. We are now fouryears into the awakeningof

CEECs to the realitiesof theirnew situationin which the bravenew democ-

racies continue to

recasttheir politics, economies, culture, law and education

while at the same

time confrontingthe greatburden of the totalitarianpast;

meanwhilethe 'West' and 'North' are beset by questionsabout the'end of pol-

itics'and of'democraticdeficit'.

One may ask whetherthe seventhyear of experience of new regimesin the

CEECs is too soon to make meaningfulassertions as to the foundationsof

democracy in these countries.Lijphart, for example,formulated one of the

criteriafor determining'whethera political systemcan be called democrat-

ic-that is whetherit is sufficientlyclose to the democraticideal' as that'it

mustbe reasonablyresponsive to the citizens'wishes over a longperiod of time'.

This criterion,'persistence of democraticrule', was definedin temporalterms

as 'at least thirtyto thirty-fiveyears'.S The CEECs have by thiscriterion only

  • 3 Alexis de Tocqueville, De la detnocratieeti Atie'rique (Paris: Garnier-Flammarion,i98i), vol. II, p. 386.

  • 4 Charles Gati,'The mirage of democracy',Tratnsitiotn 2: 6, 22 March i996, pp. 6-I2, 62.

  • 5 Arend Lijphart,Democracies: pattertis of tajoritariatn atid consenisus



coutitries (New

Haven, CN, London:Yale UniversityPress, i984), p. 38.The firstcriterion, as definedby Lijphart,was

the existence of political rightsand civil liberties.


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MaryKaldor and Ivan Vejvoda

achieved a fifthor a quarterof the 'required'temporal experience. However

precarious it may appear,we consider that it is neverthelessworthwhile to

make a preliminaryassessment about whethera genuine processof democra-

tizationis under way.

On formal and substantive democracy

Ever since democracybecame the subjectof politicalphilosophy and political

theory there have been varyingdefinitions and usages of the term.6 For

Tocqueville, democracyhad essentiallytwo meanings:one was as a political

regime definedby the rule of the people, with all the institutionaland proce-

duralmechanisms that had been specifiedby earliertheorists of democracy;the

otherwas as a conditionof societycharacterized by itstendency towards equal-

ity.This social, societal democraticcondition, the Tocquevillian'habits of the

[democratic]heart' (much in the sense of a Hegelian Sittlichkeit), meant that

democracycould not be reduced to its formal,institutional aspects.7

In this article,we distinguishbetween formal(procedural) democracy and

what we call substantivedemocracy.8 Formal democracyis a set of rules,pro-

cedures and institutionswhich we attemptto definebelow. We considersub-

stantivedemocracy as a processthat has to be continuallyreproduced, a way of

regulatingpower relationsin such a way as to maximizethe opportunitiesfor

individualsto influencethe conditionsin which theylive, to participatein and

influencedebates about the key decisionswhich affectsociety.

We take it as given thatthe formalcharacter of democracyis the indispens-

able presuppositionof the democraticsocial condition.Attempts to represent

the'social condition'as thepre-eminent 'substantive' value have,in fact,through

an overemphasizingof the idea of'community', under various guises, led in the

twentiethcentury to the modern politicalform of totalitarianism. This image

  • 6 See e.g.JuanJ. Linz, The breakdotvn *tdetimocratic regimes: crisis, breakdowvn anidreequilibratiotn (Baltimore, MD,. London,I978), p. 8:'Unfortunately,

there is no meaningful,

accepted typology of competitivedemocrat-

ics,nor any accepted measure of thedegree of democracy. Only the distinction between democracies

basedon majorityrule and thosethat Lijphart calls 'consociational' has gained wide acceptance.' See also

GeorgeOrwell,'In the case of a wordlike democracy not only is thereno agreeddefinition but the

attemptto makeone is resistedfrom all sides Thedefenders


of anykind of regimeclaim that it is a

democracy, and fearthat they might have to stopusing the word if it weretied down to anyone

ing'in Selectedessays (Baltimore, MD: s957), p. I49, quotedin G. Sartori,Demiocratic

theory (Detroit:


WayneState University Press, I962), p.3.

  • 7 In a differentvein in hisearly writings Marx expressed a

scathingcriticism of earlynineteenth-century

democracy, considering that formal, bourgeois democracy was insufficient,

indeed a veilcast over rela-

tionsof exploitation, and thata moresocially equitable and just society (socialism) in thefuture would

deliverreal, substantial 'rule of thepeople': see 'On theJewish question', in KarlMarx, Early Writitngs

(NewYork:VintageBooks, I975), pp. I46-7.

The debatebetween a proceduralist,

formal approach to democracyand a substantiveand/or normative

approachhas been forlong a mainstayof political theory. A

varietyof authorsaddress these issues. Most

recently, for example,Jiirgen

Habermas, Betwveetnfacts

anid normis:



discourse theory .f law atnd

denstocracy(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,I996; originallyFaktizitdt

unid Geltung, Frankfurt

am Main:

Suhrkamp,I992) has taken the proceduralistside, while Ronald Dworkin, Freedonils

law: the timoral


ofthe Amlericanz conistitution-i

(Oxford, New York: Oxford UniversityPress, I996) takes the substantiveside.


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Democratizatioii in centraland eastEuropean countries

of a finally'real'democracy, as totalizingcommunity, has been the politicalform

fromwhich the CEECs have emerged.'Allthose who want to replaceformal

democracywith so-called substantivedemocracy, and therebyreunify state and

societyin a totalisingway, surrender democracy as such.'9On the otherhand,

the existenceof formalmechanisms and procedures,which representan a pri-

orisafeguard against abuses of power,is a necessarycondition, but by no means

a sufficientcondition for democracy in a substantivesense.

Democracy is a set of formalinstitutions, a way of redistributingpower and


way of life.Whendistinguishing between formaland substantivein thisarti-

cle, we separateout for analyticalpurposes the institutionaland procedural

aspectsfrom the way theyare implemented,from the practicesand 'habits of

the [post-communist]heart'.

Compliance with formal criteria

There have been manyattempts to definethe criteriafor democracy. We have

assembledour own listof formalcriteria adapting a set of'proceduralminimal

conditions,originally drawn up by Dahl:'0

  • i Inclusivecitizenship: exclusion from citizenship purely on the basisof race,eth- nicityor genderis not permissible.


Rule of law:the governmentis legallyconstituted and the differentbranches

of governmentmust respect the law,with individualsand minoritiesprotect-

ed fromthe 'tyrannyof the majority'.



Separationof powers: the threebranches of government-legislature,executive

and judiciary-must be separate,with an independentjudicary capable of

upholdingthe constitution.




power-holders, i.e. membersof the legislatureand


who controlthe executive,must be elected.



Freeandfair elections: elected power-holdersare chosen in frequentand


conducted elections,in which coercion is comparativelyuncommon, and in

which practicallyali adultshave the rightto vote and to runfor elective office.


Freedomof expression and alternativesources of information:

citizens have a rightto

expressthemselves without the dangerof severepunishment on politicalmat-

ters,broadly defined, and a rightto seek alternativesources of information;

moreover,alternative sources of informationexist and are protectedby law.


Associationalautonomy: citizens also have the rightto formrelatively indepen-

dent associationsor organizations,including independent political parties and




Civiliancontrol over the security

forces: the armed forcesand police are political-

ly neutraland independentof politicalpressures and are under the controlof





Heller, 'On formaldemocracy', in J.Keane, Ci'i1 societyat-d the state (London:Verso, I988), p. 13 I.


o R.

Dahl, Dilemmtutas

qfpluralist demtocracy

(New Haven, CN: Yale UniversityPress, I982),


I I.


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MaryKaldor and IvanVejvoda

Table i summarizesthe findingsfrom our studyabout the extentto which

the CEECs meet the formalcriteria of democracyas defined.The materialis

based on our individualcase-studies. By and large,we findthat the ten CEECs

do meet the formalcriteria for democracy. All ten have democraticallyratified

constitutions.Some are alreadyrefining and amendingtheir post-I989 consti-

tutionsso as to attainhigher democratic standards. Constitutional courts play

an importantrole in thissense and have proventhemselves to be a major insti-

tutionaldemocratic actor in the presenttransformations.

Only Latvia and Estonia do not fullymeet the criterionof inclusivecitizen-

ship." In both countries substantialethnic minorities,especially Russian-

speakingpeople, lack citizenshipprimarily for procedural reasons, even though

the citizenship laws do not explicitlyexclude minorities.In the Czech

Republic, Roma people do not automaticallyqualify for citizenshipbecause,

afterthe splitof

Czechoslovakia,they were classifiedas Slovaks;they have had

difficultyacquiring citizenshipfor procedural reasons,particularly a clause

(since removedunder internationalpressure) that those eligiblefor citizenship

musthave no criminalrecord during the previousfive years.'2

Apart fromthese citizenshipproblems, the key formalcriterion of existing

and guaranteed democratic civil liberties (human rights),in particularfor

minorities,has been met in the CEECs. However,in none of the CEECs is the

rule of law fullyimplemented. Although this is a criterionthat is difficultto

gauge fullywith respectto an ideal-typicalrule of law,it can nonethelessbe

said that the individualcitizen in the CEECs is in a varietyof ways (with

markeddifferences among the countries)still grappling with the practicaluse

of formallegal guaranteesthat have been enshrinedin statute,as a resultof

weak judiciaries and/or inadequate machineryfor law enforcement.Hence,

thereexists a continuedsense of individualinsecurity in a numberof the coun-

triesunder review.'3

The separationof powersbetween legislative, executive and judiciary branch-

es is more or less in place. In Slovakia,there have been attemptsby the gov-

ernmentto constrainthe power of the President,which to some extentwere

countered by pressuresfrom opposition parties,civil society and European

institutions.In Poland, PresidentWalesa on occasion abused his position to

interferein the functioningof government.In Romania, formerPresident

Ilescu playeda verypowerful role and insistedon standingfor a thirdperiod in

office,although this appears to be contraryto the constitution.In the Baltic

states,the weaknessof thejudiciary-a Soviet inheritance- makes it difficult


See Andris Runcis, Detmiocratisation

itnLatvzia country report, MS, i996;Jiiri Ruus, Detmiocratisation


Estonia,country report, MS, I996.

I2 Martin Palous and Zdenek Kavan, Detmiocracyitnthe Czech Republic, country report, MS, 1996, pp. 9-I I.

'3 See the sectionbelow on 'Administration' and individualcountry reports: Alina Mungiu Pippidi,


procedural detmiocracy


European integration,

country report, MS, I996; Martin Butora, The pre-

setitstate of detmiocracy itnSlotvakia, country report MS, I996; RumnyanaKolarova, Detnocratisation in Bulgaria:

presenttendeticies, country report, MS, I996; also those on Latvia and Estonia cited in note i I above.


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Table 1: Formal democracy: main criteria


Bulgaria Republic Estonia

Hungary Latvia L







Ruleof law






Separationof powers












Freeandfairelections A






Freedomof expressionand














Civiliancontrol of the

armedforces/security | A








I I_I_I_I_I_I __

A = Formalprocedures are in place and mostlyimplemented.


B =




Source:Country reports

Formal procedures are in place but incompleteimplementation.

Formalprocedures are inplace buthindrances to implementation.

= Formalprocedures are notin place.

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MaryKaldor and IvanVejvoda

forthe judicial arm to balance the otherbranches of government.In Latvia,the

legislativebranch dominates over the executivebranch.

Regular electionshave led to the alternationin power of divergentparties or

coalitions,thus proving that the mechanismsof politicalcompetition can oper-

ate and are accepted by the politicalactors. In Romania, peaceful alternation

has only recentlytaken place for the firsttime, as a resultof the elections of

November I996.

It is clear that elections are not a sufficientcondition for the existence of

democracybut have to be complementedby a 'varietyof competitiveprocess-


and channelsfor the expressionof interestsand values-associational as well

as partisan,functional as well as territorial,collective as well as individual'.'4

These can become efficientand operationalonly in a freepublic realmwhere

open access to a varietyof sourcesof informationcan thenlead to deliberation

concerningthe collectivenorms and choices thatare binding on the society

and backed by state coercion. In Bulgaria,associational autonomy, based on

ethnicity,is restricted.'5

The controlof civilianauthorities over the militaryhas been largelyachieved,

althoughin some countries,especially Romania and Slovakia,the so-calleddark

forces,remnants of the secretpolice, lurk in the shadowsof politicsand society.

Getting under the skin of the new democracies in the CEECs

Democracy,however, is not reducibleto institutions,rules and procedures,i.e.

to its formalaspects. It is a way of lifeof the individualcitizen in the societies

born out of the modern democraticrevolutions. The I989 transformations

markthe new beginningof thisprocess in the CEECs. How are these formal

institutions,rules and proceduresimplemented in practice?Are the CEECs fol-

lowing the blueprintof an existingdemocratic model or have theseseven years

of democratizationdisplayed tendencies towards a suigeneris model of partially

developed democracy?

The extentto which a particularsociety can be said to

be characterizedby a

democraticpolitical culture in which thereis a genuine tendencyfor political

equalizationand in which theindividual feels secure and able and willingto par-

ticipatein politicaldecision-making is not somethingthat can be easilymeasured.

We have chosen to focus here on what we see as key 'features'of substantive

democracy,which have a bearingon the deepernature of democraticlife. These

featuresinclude the character of constitutionsand theway in whichhuman rights

are perceived;the role of politicalparties and the extentto which theyprovide a

vehiclefor political participation; the role of the media and the extentto


theyare capableof representinga broad political debate; whether and how


'4 Philippe C. Schmitterand TerryL. Karl,'What democracy is



is not',Jurntal.f Detmiocracy2: 3,



p. 78.

IS Rumyana Kolarova,country report, p. 5.


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Democratizationin centraland eastEuropean countries

formercommunist administration has been able to transformitself into a genuine

public servicein which individualshave trust;the degreeto which local govern-

ment is able to manage and respondto local concerns;and finaRythe existence

of an activecivil society, in thesense of independentassociations and institutions,

which is able to check abusesof statepower.We are awarethat these features by

no meansconstitute an exhaustivelist of thecharacteristics of substantivedemoc-

racy,but our researchsuggested that these were theaspects that appear to be most

centralto an assessmentof substantivedemocracy.

Constitutional issues and human rights

The social functionof constitutionshas become increasinglycomplex because

of theirhistorical and theoreticaldevelopment.'6 The basic functionis the lim-

itation of power both in a negative,defensive sense and in a positivesense as

the 'authorizingfunction'. The capacity to legitimize political authorityis

closely related to the integrative function of modern constitutions.

Constitutions,in so faras they'incarnate the goals,aspirations, values and basic

beliefs which [a society's]members commonly hold and which bind them

together may serveas a kind of secularcatechism'.'7


Overall,the legitimizingfunction of the new constitutionsin the CEECs has

fosteredstability and a processof consolidation.It has provideda frameworkto

which the workingsof institutions,rules and procedureshave slowly been

adapting.Theconstitution-makers in the CEECs have demonstratedtheir con-

cern for both rightsand social justice,and, in spite of differences,all reveala

significantpreference for a communitarianconcept of constitutionalism,as

opposed to a rights-basedconcept, thus emphasizing the 'nation' as opposed to

the 'citizen'. Contemporarydebates in the fieldof politicalphilosophy suggest

a bifurcationbetween a politicalconcept of the 'right'and one of the 'good',

or betweenjustice and community.The new constitutionsof the CEECs tend


expressa preferencefor the latterrather than the former,although neither

rightsnor justice are disregarded.'8

Human rights'depend on public institutions,they cost money (and this is

true not only for social and economic rightsbut for the so-called negative

rightsas well); governmentcannot protectproperty and life itselfwithout

tesources ...rights will not existwithout a rightsbearing culture, that is a cul-

ture in which ordinarypeople are at least sometimeswilling to take serious

personal risksby challengingpowerful people by insistingthat rightsare at

stake.The protectionof rightswill requiregovernment to act in both public

and privatespheres, sometimes within the familyitself (to preventdomestic

  • 16 Ulrich Preuss,Con-istitutiotial

aspects of tilemiakini-g



societies .,f east EurTpe

(Bremen: Zentrum fuirEuropaische Rechtspolitik,I993),


'7 Ibid., p. 7.

IS Ibid., p. 34.


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MaryKaldor and Ivan Vejvoda

violence)."9 The problemof individualand collective(minority) rights is one

of the stumblingblocks in the CEECs. Lackinga rightsculture, slanted towards

a communitarianoutlook, with a scarcityof resourcesand in the absence of any

traditionof communitypolicing, there are persistentproblems in certaincoun-

tries-in particularthose in which thereare significantminorities. These relate

to the Russians livingin Estonia and Latvia,the Hungariansliving in Slovakia

and Romania and the Roma livingin the Czech Republic, Slovakia,Hungary,

Romania and Bulgaria,as well as the discriminationagainst and abuse of for-

eigners,especialiy from developing countries, who came to studyor work in

the CEECs duringthe communistperiod.

The legacyof social guaranteesunder communism has been an inclinationto

view human rightsas equated not withindividual, civic and politicalrights, but

largelywith economic and social rights,such as guaranteesof work,free ele-

mentary,secondary and universityeducation, child allowances and old-age pen-

sions,20although this view has come under pressurefrom the new neoliberal

ideologies.The tendencyhas oftenbeen put forwardas one of the main rea-

sons forthe electoralsuccesses of the formercommunist parties in electionsin

Lithuania,Poland, Hungary,Bulgaria and Romania. It is suggestedthat the

electorates,disenchanted with societal convulsions and the social costs of

change,2'believed that these parties could at leaststem the flood of change and

slow down the pace

The legislationin

of'streamlining' and'downsizing' in theirworkplaces.

human rightsis for the most part in place. The interna-

tional covenantshave been, or are in the process of being, integratedinto

domesticlegislation. The 'paper guarantees'can, however,unfortunately coex-

ist with more or less extensivediscrimination or inequalityon groundsof, for

example,gender,22 or minoritystatus. In Romania, the new penal code makes

homosexualitya criminaloffence.23

It has been stressedthat an awarenessof the'right to have rights'24is the first

step in the directionof developingboth an individualand a collectiveaware-

ness.This should be followedby a learningprocess whereby it becomes clear

to the people concerned thatrights actually serve collective interests, by mak-

ing it possibleto have and maintaina certainkind of societywith a certainsort

of culture.Part of the reasonfor a systemof freespeech is not only to protect

the individualspeaker, but to allow processesof public deliberationand discus-


C. R. Sunstein,'Rights aftercommunism: introduction', East EuropeatnCotistitutional Review 4: I, Winter


p. 6i.

  • 20 See e.g.James R. Millar and Sharon L.Wolchik, eds, Thesocial legacy (f)fcomimiiiunistln (Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress, I994).

2I See N. Eberstadt,'EasternEurope's disturbinghealth crisis', Wall StreetJourtial,


Sept. I993; also 'Social

indicatorsand transition',Tran1sitiotn Report 1995 (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,


pp. 2I-5.

  • 22 K. L. Scheppele,'Women's rightsin Eastern Europe', East EuropeanContstitutiontal

Review 4: I,Winter


pp. 66-9.

  • 23 Alina Mungiu Pippidi, countryreport.

  • 24 H. Arendt,The origitnsof totalitariatnismii (New

York: Harcourt,Brace, Jovanovitch, I973),

pp. 296-7.


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Democratizationin centraland eastEuropean countries

sion thatserve public goals,by, for example, constraining governmental power

and makingjust and effectiveoutcomes more likely.25


After I989 three basic kinds of political parties emerged: the communists

recast themselvesunder differentnames and with a more centre-leftslant;

some partiesattempted to continuethe traditionof the pre-I940s parties;and

wholly new partiesemerged, most oftenfounded by ex-dissidentsor other

individualswho were not linked to communistpower-holders in a direct

sense. Only the post-communistparties have sizeable membership and

significantlocal organization.They have inheritedthe partynetworks and


them to use in the new environmentof competitivepolitics. This maywell be

the main explanationfor theirelectoral success in all the CEECs except the

Czech Republic and Slovakia,where theywere discreditedand in Estonia and

Latvia,where theyfragmented. Since I989 veryfew of the pre-1940s parties

that re-emergedhave survivedexcept for peasant parties which are rather

small outside Poland.26

Some of the wholly new parties,such as the UW (Union of Freedom) in

Poland, the UDF (Union of Democratic Forces) in Bulgaria and DCR

(Democratic Convention of Romania), are sufferingfrom 'childhood illness-

es'. They have been createdfrom the top down and theirmembership is low.

Their representativeshave in many cases had no prior experience in practi-

cal politics.In a society that seeks stabilityafter a major transformationit is

not a simple task for these new potentialpoliticians to win the trustof the

electorate.Also, it is difficultfor these partiesto build up an extended net-

work of grass roots party organizationswithin a short time.This requires

human and financialresources which are not alwaysforthcoming. The result

is thatpolitical party life gravitatesaround the capitalsand the major cities of

these countries.

The transitionfrom a one-partyto a multi-partysystem went throughan ini-

tial phase of mushroomingpolitical parties, followed by a tighteningof electoral

laws definingthresholds usualiy of 3-5 per centwhich in timereduced this great

numberof partiesto fiveor six importantparties in virtuallyall the CEECs.27

With the exception of the

formerCzechoslovakia,28 a patternseems to be

  • 25 Sunstein,'Rights aftercommunism', p. 6i.

  • 26 The PSL (Polish Peasants'Party), the largestsuch partyin the CEECs, won I9% of the votes in parlia- mentaryelections in September I995 and is part of the governingcoalition. Other examples are the Small-holders Partyin Hungary

and the AgrarianParty in Bulgaria.

  • 27 An almost identical process occurred in Spain

in the

immediate post-Franco period.

  • 28 The ruling ODS (Civic Democratic Party)of

Prime MinisterKlaus in the Czech Republic, which took

29.6% of the vote in the May-June I996 parliamentaryelections, is in a coalition with the ODA (Civic

Democratic Alliance) and the KDU/CSL (ChristianDemocratic Union/Czech People's Party).The rul-

ing HZDS (Movement for a Democratic Slovakia) of Prime MinisterMeciar in Slovakia, which won

34.9% of the votes in the 1994 elections,is in a coalition with the ZRS (Association ofWorkersof

Slovakia) and the SNS (Slovak National Party).


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MaryKaldor and IvanVejvoda

emergingin which the post-communistparties are the largestand oftenpre-

dominantparties. In Hungary and, until recentlySlovenia, where these post-

communistparties had alreadybegun to change duringthe I98os, theyrule in

coalitionwith liberalparties and a kind of consensualpolitics is developing.29

Politicsis becoming'boring',even 'normal'. In othercountries, a sharppolariza-

tion separatesthe post-communistparties from the anti-communistopposition.

Such is the case in

Bulgariaand Poland whereformer communists are in power,

and Lithuaniaand Romania where formercommunists were recentlydefeated.

Lithuaniawas the firstcountry in which,in the October I992 elections,the for-

mer communists-theLDLP (LithuanianDemocratic Labour Party)-regained

power;most recently, in the October I996 elections,the former communists have

also become the firstsuch group to be displacedfrom power. In the case of the

Czech Republic and Slovakia,where the communistshad been totaRydiscredit-

ed, the predominantparties seem to have organizedthemselves around the per-

sonalitiesof theirleaders-Klaus and Meciar respectively.

Both the post-communistand new partiesare forthe most parthighly cen-

tralizedwith a markedlyhierarchical structure. It can be argued thatthey see

themselves,as theircommunist predecessors did, as instrumentsfor the capture

or preservationof power ratherthan as 'transmissionbelts' for political ideas and

debates.The old tendenciesto extend partycontrol over various spheresof

social life-the media, universities,the newly privatized enterprises-are

reducingpolitical space to what the Italianshave called partitocrazia,30rule by

partiesdividing up 'spheresof influence'in society.

It is verydifficult to distinguishparties on the basis of philosophyor ideolo-

gy,except for those mostly peripheral parties with xenophobic or extremechau-

vinistictendencies which are to be foundin all thesecountries, some of which

attain io per cent of the vote.Most partiesexpress a commitmentto the mar-

ket, to social justice and to joining the EU,

whether they are post-

communist,such as the formercommunists of Romania (National Salvation

Frontof PresidentIliescu), the BSP (BulgarianSocialist Party of Prime Minister

Zhan Videnov), the Polish SLD (Alliance of Democratic Left of President

Kwasniewski) or right-wing,such as the ODS (Civic Democratic Party) of

Vaclav Klaus in the Czech Republic.These tend to be catch-allparties. There

are some differencesbetween those parties which expressa more civic orienta-

tion (forexample, the Free Democratsin Hungary,the Union of Freedom in

Poland orVPN, Public againstViolencein Slovakia),and thosewhich accentu-

  • 29 In Hungary the formercommunist MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party),which in the I994 elections won 33% of the vote

but 54% of the seats in parliament,decided to

create a grand coalition with the post-

I989, new liberal SZDSZ (Alliance of Free Democrats) which won 20% of the vote (Andras Boz6ki,

Demi-iocracy in1Hun1gary: cotifronnitinig tiheory atnd practice, country report, MS, I996, pp. 8-13). In Slovenia in

the three years up to March I996 the Associated List of Social Democrats (formercommunists) was in a

grand coalition with the Liberal Democrat Partyand

the ChristianDemocrat Party (Tonci Kuzmanic,

Slot'eniia:jromtt Yugoslav'iato them11iddle ofntowlhere, country report, MS, I996, pp. 4-5).

  • 30 Giovanni Sartori,Deiniocratic thieory (Detroit: Wayne State UniversityPress, I962), p. I87.


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Democratizationin centraland eastEuropean countries

ate attachmentto national and/or religiousvalues, for example, Sajudis in

Lithuania,the rulingHZDS in Slovakiaor the formerruling MDF (Hungarian

Democratic Forum),in oppositionsince I994. By and large,political debates

have had littleprogrammatic substance.The sharpest debates are eitherabout the

past, pitching communism against anti-communism(in the Baltic states,

Bulgaria and Poland), or about personalities(Meciar and Kovac in Slovakia,

Klaus and Havel in the Czech Republic,Walesaand Kwasniewskiin Poland in

the recentpresidential elections, or Brazauskasand Landsbergisin Lithuania).

Attemptsare being made by the new partiesto broaden theirmembership,

but theyare comingup againsta wall of antipoliticalsentiments.This reluctance

of people to engage in politicshas its rootsnot only in the negativepolitical

legacy of prolongedlife in an overpoliticizedcommunist polity, but also in a

sense of powerlessness,of inabilityto influencepolitical or economic events,in

a situationin which the perceptionof partsof the electorateis thatagencies

such as the IMF or theWorld Bank have much greaterleverage on theirfuture

thaninternal actors. The absence of a public sphere,a space fortrue discussion

in a sharplypolarized situation,leads oftento politicalcynicism and apathy.3'

In most of the CEECs thereare extremenationalist parties, but theirsupport

does not exceed the IO per cent mark in polls or elections.In some cases

nationaliststrands and factionsorganize within the largerparties (for example

in the rulingBulgarian BSP and in the rulingSlovak HZDS); in otherslarger

partiesenter coalitions with the smallerextremist ones

(Romania's recentlyrul-

ing National SalvationFront was for some time in a coalition with the small

extremenationalist party, and

Slovakia'sHZDS is coalesced with'non-standard

groupings-characterizedby an increaseddegree of nationaland

social pop-

ulism,authoritarianism and confrontationalstyle politics'3 2).


The modern media of communicationwere part and parcel of the former

communistregimes, servicing the political monopoly of the ruling party.A

parallelsecond public spherewas createdthrough the establishmentand exis-

tence of samizdatjournals and informalprivate lines of communication.Since

1989 the media have been pluralizedto differingdegrees in all the CEECs.

There have been 'media wars' (in Hungary and Bulgaria),conflicts and often

irreconcilabletensions over the controland legal definitionof the media. Some

countries passed their media legislation only recently,an example being

Hungaryin December I995; others,such as Bulgaria,contrary to constitution-

al provisions,still have no enacted legislation,and the absence of such legisla-

tion enables the rulingmajority to controlthe nationalmedia directly.33The

3I See IvanVejvoda,'Apolitisme et postcomnmunisme',Tuhinultes

  • 32 Martin Butora, countryreport, p. 5.

(Paris) no. 8, Sept. I996, pp. I95-206.

  • 33 Rumyana Kolarova,country report, p. 9.


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MaryKaldor and Ivan Vejvoda

pluralityof the media and theirdiffering reach and influencehave to be taken

into considerationwhen assessingthe degree of pluralizationand the level of

independencethat have been attained.

The broadcastmedia, especialiytelevision, clearly exert the most powerful

influenceon public opinion. In ali these countriesthe state has retaineda

notable degree of controlover the televisionchannels previously operated by

the party-state. These have been reformedand liberalized,although the extent

of liberalizationvaries, being greaterin Lithuania(a verysuccessful example),

Hungary and Poland than in Slovakia and Romania. The incumbentgovern-

mentswhich finance these televisionchannels out of the state budget tend,

with a more or less subtleapproach, to tryto influencethe way theirideas and

policies are presented,while journalists sometimes exhibit too greata degree of

loyaltyto those in power.34

There is evidencefrom opinion polls,in Slovakiafor example, that moves to

exercisegreater government control over state-owned broadcast media are arous-

ing growingdisapproval and dissatisfactionin the countrieswhere thisis occur-

ring.People are turninginstead to theavailable private/commercial

channels or to

channelsfrom neighbouring countries-in Slovakia,to the Czech channel'Nova'

until in September I996 Slovakia launched its firstcommercial station, TV

Markiza.35Numerous independent television and radio channelshave appeared

alongsidethe state-financed channels. For themost part, these are privately owned

by domesticor foreign(often expatriate) interests. In manycases theyare enter-


channels with litde political information content,

althoughmore balanced privatetelevision channels are beginningto emerge.

Journalistshave tendedto seek a greaterdegree of professionalizationand were

among thefirst groups to organizeindependent unions (for example in Slovenia).

It is thelack offinancial means and theefforts of politicians to influencethe inde-

pendentboards of media stationsthat limit the independenceof media.

The basic problem is the difficultyof establishinga public media service

which is not dependenton the changingpolitical colour of governments,and

where for the benefitof the public good, differentpolitical positions can be

expressedside by side.In the broadcastmedia, there seems to be a polarization

now between government-influenced,

state-run channels and independent,

commercialor opposition channels.In the printmedia the situationis more

varied,but similarpatterns occur. Newspapers resembling The Independentor Le

Monde,which tryto covera wide varieyof positions,are rare.In thispart of the

world,'independent'media usuallymeans oppositionmedia. Perhapsthe best

opportunitiesfor the provisionof a genuine public service media are to be

foundat a local level,where both local radio stationsand local printmedia have

more space to addresslocal issues,although the audiences are small.



country report, p. iS: however,'thisrelative loyalty was reachednot by censorshipbut by



MartinButora, country report, p. I2.


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Democratizationin centraland eastEuropean countries

It is interestingto note that there seems to be today a broader and more

intensepublic discussionin both nationaland local media in those countries,

such as Poland and Hungary,where a public debate had alreadybegun during

the late 1970S and I98os, in oftenvery difficultcircumstances, and was flour-

ishing by I989. This debate is probablyjust as intense in countriessuch as

Slovakia and Romania, but here the reach of the printedand electronicmedia

in which the debate takesplace is less.


In the aftermathof I989, the main challengeof transitionwas the introduction

of democraticcontrol over, and the establishmentof a public sphereindepen-

dent of, the state.In thiswhole process,much less attentionwas paid to the

problem of reformingthe state itself.Moreover, unlike in East Germany,in

none of the CEECs, except the Czech Republic, has therebeen an extensive

programme of decommunization. Lustration laws were introduced in

Czechoslovakia before the split; subsequently,the law was abandoned in

Slovakia but extended in the Czech Republic. However,even in the Czech

Republic, lustrationlaws seem to have been used mainlyto discreditpolitical

opponents ratherthan to reformthe administration.36An importantarea for

any assessmentof the processof democratizationis the fateof the extensivefor-

mer communist'apparat' and its'apparatchiks'.

Not only has therebeen no extensiveprogramme of decommunization,the

new rulingparties have in manycases inheritedthe clientilisticassumptions of

the previousperiod.Thus, in almostall the CEECs, the rulingparties have tend-

ed to controlappointments to the upperlevels of the civilservice. This tenden-

cy is especiallymarked in theBaltic states and in Bulgaria.In Bulgaria,for exam-

ple,there have been threewaves of partisanreplacement of the variousechelons

of the administration:in 1992, 1993-4

and 1995. Moreover,the 'Kapualiev

amendment'to the labour code allows medium- and high-levelmanagers in

administrationand stateenterprises to be dismissedwithout reason.37

The administrationsin the newlydemocratized CEECs also lack a public ser-

vice ethos.In particular,there has been a tendencyon the partof the younger,

more pragmaticallyminded membersof

the outgoingcommunist administra-

tions to transformtheir political losses at

the demise of communisminto eco-

nomic gains throughthe transferof stateproperty into privateownership mak-


use of theirprivileged position and knowledgeof the insidefunctioning of

the statein theirrespective countries. There is,therefore, an important,complex

and oftenopaque relationshipbetween the 'administration' and the 'economy'.

There have been more or less widespreadand more or less regulatedand

accountableexamples of movementsof people frompublic administration to pri-

  • 36 Martin Palous and Zdenek Kavan, countryreport.

  • 37 Rumyana Kolarova,country report.


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MaryKaldor and IvanVejvoda

vateenterprise and correspondingtransfers of property in all the CEECs, to vary-

ing degrees.In mostCEECs the technocratsof theformer communist parties are

perceivedas the winnersfrom the 'transition',having successfully transformed

public assetsinto privateproperty with the help of thosein the administration.

So-called'spontaneous privatization' in severalCEECs, forexample Hungary in

i988-9 or the Baltic states,has enabled formermanagers of state enterprises,

membersof the nomenklatura, to become

the new privateowners.Various scan-

dalsinvolving members of governmentministries and politicalfigures have been

revealedduring the privatization process, for example, in banking.In Bulgaria,the

assassinationof the formerprime ministerAndrei Lukanov is reportedto have

been linkedto his threatto uncovera scandalinvolving the coteriearound the

currentprime minister, ZhanVidenev, and theircontrol over the Orion groupof

enterprises.38Romania is a particularlyacute example of thistendency, due to

the pervasivenessof the secretpolice duringthe communistperiod.39 A variety

of terms,including 'directocracy','cleptocracy', the 'new bourgeoisie',are used to

describe the power of formerdirectors of currendyor formerlystate-owned

enterpriseswho are closelylinked through former communist and secretpolice

networksenabling them to circumventthe existinglegal frameworkand achieve

theirgoals 'invisibly'. A particularlyinfamous aspect of the Romanian situationis

theway in which theProsecutor's Office has blockedinvestigations into scandals,

for example,a Financial Guard reportaccusing severalhigh-level officials of

'trafficof influence',or the Puma helicopterscandal, revealed by the press,in

which a governmentparty official with a positionon the Defence Committee

of the NationalAssembly allegedly received a commissionof $2 millionfor a deal

with SouthAfrica.40

One of the problemsarising from this state of affairsis the positionin these

countriesof the civil servicein generaland the law enforcementagencies in

particular.Undoubtedly corruptionis a social, economic and culturalphe-

nomenon presentunder all political regimes around the globe, and liberal

democraticcountries are

not immune fromit. What is specificto the post-

communistcondition is the lack of resourcesin state budgets adequately to

finance theircivil servicesand in particulartheir law enforcementagencies.

This lack of resourcesis in turn relatedto the inadequacy of tax collection

because of weak law enforcement,which is in turnparalleled by the growthof

a shadow economy and the emergenceof various mafia-typenetworks, often

with links to the administration. This situationis most extremein Romania,

Bulgaria and theBaltic states.In Estonia,it is estimatedthat 45 per cent of busi-

  • 38 JulianBorger, 'He was a communistwith the Midas touch, now he is Sofia's first"illustrious corpse"',

Observer,27 Oct. I996 .

  • 39 'Governmental agencies such as the Financial Guard [in Romania] occasionally have burstsof authority and good intentions,but these remainunsupported by the Parliamentand the governmentitself so they cannot face up to the problem of generalizedcorruption, traffic of influence,administrative abuses and lack of effectiveness':Alisa Mungiu Pippidi, countryreport, p. 6.

  • 40 Alina Mungiu Pippidi, countryreport.


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Democratizationin centraland eastEuropean countries

nesses make paymentsto the mafia.4'Thus briberyand corruptionbecome a

normal'way of doing even the most menial admiinistrative


Insteadof progressivelybecoming a true'service', these public institutionsare

stillexperienced by people in the CEECs as cientilistic,dependent on ruling

partyallegiance, and not as neutralinstitutions working in the interestof the

public.It is stillwith much unease thatcitizens enter public serviceinstitutions,

where the experience of an overbureaucratizedpast has not changed as rapid-

ly as in otheraspects of dailylife.


The need to establishand directfrom the top down effectivepolitical, eco-

nomic and legal institutions,practically from scratch, has engendereda central-

ization thatstifles local government.The inheritanceof the historicalpast and

in particularof the communistcentralization of power has been entrenchedby

the perceivedneed for'expert'governance and control.

Withinall CEECs thereare importantregional differences, and in local elec-

tionsboth local partiesand local democraticallyoriented imaginative leaders have

emergedwhose attemptsto developa decentralizeddemocratic arena have been

thwartedby a lack of redistributionof resourcesfrom the centralstate budget and

by the impossibilityof retainingat least part of the taxesgathered at the local

level,as well as by directinterference from the centre.In some cases,for example

Lithuania,local governmenthas no independenttax collection authority; in other

cases,financial autonomy is verylimited. In manycases, for example Hungary,

Slovakiaor Slovenia,a strugglefor power has developedbetween the regional tier

of centralgovernment and democraticallyelected local government. An extreme

example is Romania, where the departmentof local administrationwas actually

able to sack a largenumber of oppositionalmayors.42

Administrativeand fiscalimpotence has sometimesundermined the legiti-

macy of locally elected administrators. This is exacerbatedby a tendencyof

even local media to focus on nationalpolitics, so thatinformation about local

affairsis not readilyavailable. The consequence is thatthe local electoratemay

tryto align theirlocal votes with the partyin power at the centreto createa

lifelinefrom the centreto the periphery,i.e. access to power and resources.

Depending oIn the partyin power,the regionshave benefitedor been exclud-

ed fromfunding in differentsocial and economic sectors.This phenomenon

appearsin countriesas differentfrom one anotheras Slovakia and Romania.

It should be stressedthat despite this situation local governmenthas been able

in certaincircumstances, either because of ownershipof local propertyor pro-

longed presenceand knowledgeof particularlocal needs and interests,to push

forwardpolicies concerning culturalor environmentalissues, or to acquire

resourcesin wayswhich have benefitedthe local population.

41 JiiriRuus, countryreport.

  • 42 Alina Mungiu Pippidi, countryreport.


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MaryKaldor and IvanVejvoda

Civil society

The term 'civil society'is associatedwith the I989 revolutions.During the

I980S it came to

have a veryspecific meaning, referring to the existenceof self-

organizedgroups or institutionscapable of preservingan autonomous public

spherewhich could guaranteeindividual liberty and check abuses of the state.