Blog AnalysisNeighborhood enlargement

Democratization in the East. It moves slowly

(Archives B2) Despite the words, democratization is evolving slowly in the countries of the East. If we count the states with a government and an assembly elected according to democratic rules and according to a new constitution, few of them have completed this course.

Slow transition phase

Most Eastern countries are currently in the middle of a transition phase. They overthrew the old regime in a more or less gentle – and more or less planned – manner. A new government led by a “charismatic” leader – Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia, Lech Walesa in Poland, Vytautas Landsbergis in Lithuania – is set up, supported by a unified opposition movement, “democratic forum” or “popular front” style. .

A crumbling anti-communist government coalition

A sign or prelude to the end of the transition period, this coalition is rapidly crumbling under the weight of economic difficulties and lack of ideological unity. The only cement of the common movement being hostility to the Communist Party. New fully democratic elections bring “traditional” political parties face to face with a “partisan” government bringing to power a political party or a coalition of homogeneous parties.

Many countries in unstable equilibrium

Today, only Hungary and, as soon as its government is formed, Bulgaria, have completed all stages of this process. Countries that have not yet completed their transition are in an unstable balance if one of the institutions – constitution, government, assembly – has not reached the same “democratic level” as the others.

In Poland, the government couple Walesa/Bielecki has to face an assembly and a constitution largely inspired by the communist regime.

In Yugoslavia, we have reached the pinnacle of the imbalance because cohabiting there are “states” which have not yet evolved, Serbia, some which are barely beginning their transition phase, Bosnia and Macedonia, and others which are almost at the end of the transition phase, like Slovenia where the Demos democratic coalition is on the verge of breaking up, leaving the field open to the conservative parties.

The only ones escaping this phenomenon are the Baltic countries which are only at the beginning of their pensum, and Czechoslovakia, which under the rule of the two Vaclavs – Havel and Klaus, and despite Slovak separatism, is still experiencing after its “revolution of velvet”, a “gentle” evolution.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Article published in La Truffe October 17, 1991


Level of democratization

To assess the level of democratization, we evaluated three fundamental criteria — the Constitution, the government and the parliamentary assembly — in three levels depending on whether they have kept the old structures or have evolved.

  • Constitution. C1 = communist constitution, C2 = partial reforms, C3 = liberal constitution
  • Government. G1 communist government, G2 = transitional government, G3 = newly elected party government
  • Parliament. A1 = communist assembly, A2 = coalition assembly, A3 = party assembly (… in brackets … the coalition party)

We have summarized the level of democratization according to the progression in the achievement (complete or partial) of these criteria.

  • Z1 Communist Structures = three criteria at level 1
  • Z2 Transition Structures = at least 1 criterion at level 2
  • Z3 Reformed structures = three criteria at level 2 (some or 3)
  • Z4 Democratic structures = three criteria at level 3

Democratization Table

Country = democracy level – Constitution – Government – ​​Assembly

Albania = level 2……………………C1………………….G2…………………A1

Bulgaria = level 3…………………..C3………………….G2 (G3)…………A3

Hungary = level 4……………………C3………………….G3………………..A3

ex-GDR = level 3……………………C3………………….G3………………..A2 (Democratic Forum)

Romania = level 2………………..C1………………….G2………………..A2 (National Salvation Front)

Poland = level 3……………………C2…………………G3………………..A2 (A3 end of October)

Czechoslovakia = level 3……….C2………………….G2……………….A2 (Civic Forum)

Baltic countries

Lithuania = level 2……………………C1………………..G2………………..A2 (Sajudis)

Latvia = level 2……………………C1………………..G2………………..A2 (Popular Front)

Estonia = level 2…………………….C1………………..G2………………..A2 (Popular Front)

Yugoslavia

Bosnia = level 2……………………..C1…………………G1………………..A2

Croatia = level 2…………………….C3…………………G2……………….A2

Macedonia = level 2……………….C1…………………G1………………..A2

Montenegro = level 1……………..C1…………………G1………………..A1

Serbia = level 1……………………..C1………………….G1………………..A1

Slovenia = level 2………………….C2………………….G2……………….A2 (Demos)


 

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).