Fidelity to traditional values has generated a peculiar approach to politics as such throughout Eastern Europe. The author found in Poland that the criteria people used to judge political excellence, or political leadership, had little to do with programs and performance, and almost everything to do with morals and ethics. Poles tended to judge leaders not by whether they were or were likely to be effective at moving the country in a given direction, but by whether they were good or bad men: decent or indecent, strong or weak, kind or brutal, loyal or disloyal. The author's conclusion was that this moralization of politics made swinstwo--swinishness--the primary category for political condemnation. This paper then analyzes this phenomenon throughout the region as a whole.
January 2004 - Over the past decade, international organizations and development NGOs have broadened their efforts to nurture democratic governance from the centers of power in capital cities to local government. Local government is the first tier of public authority that people confront in their everyday lives. Good local governance provides services to diverse populations, facilitates the development of political institutions and cross cutting social networks and fosters economic development. At the same time, effective local government has the capacity to resolve conflicts at an early stage, preventing them from escalating into violence. In this light, the circumstances enhancing the sustainability of post-conflict local democracy command great interest.
Special Reports: Environment and Security in an International Context: Executive Summary Report, by the NATO/Committee on The Challenges of Modern Society Pilot Study; and State Failure Task Force Report: Phase II Findings.
March 1998 - Latvia will hold its next parliamentary elections in October 1998. How will the political left fare? Given the social and economic travails of the post-Communist period (the radical drop in living standards, the plight of those on fixed incomes, the loss of status of the cultural intelligentsia), one might predict that the left would score successes. Since 1991, however, the political left has seemed almost quiescent in Latvian politics. The parties of the left in the renewed parliament (Saeima) have controlled at best only about a third of all seats, and only one of these leftist parties received a plurality in the last Saeima elections in 1995. Why is this so? The political left in Latvia has not succeeded because it has not come to grips with six dilemmas-or, better said, problems with equally unsatisfying solutions.
November 2004 - The purpose of this paper is to address two questions associated with Lithuania’s political crisis in 2004. First, what were the domestic circumstances that led to the impeachment of Lithuania’s President, Rolandas Paksas? Second, what evidence is there that Russia has played a significant role in the crisis and what are the motives behind Moscow’s meddling in Lithuania’s internal affairs?
In this paper, the author examines the initial outcomes of post-1989 transformations in countries outside the former Soviet Union. He identifies the patterns of transformation emerging in the region and proposes some tentative ideas that help to account for disparities in initial outcomes of these transformations.
In July 2003, the government of President Álvaro Uribe took the unprecedented step of opening formal peace talks with the AUC. This publication is the collection of papers that resulted from a conference hosted by the Wilson Center to explore key issues in the Government-AUC peace talks, the prospects for an eventual negotiated settlement, and the key challenges ahead.
September 2004 - On May 1, 2004, ten countries joined the European Union (EU). On the day of the accession, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary all had Central-Left governments in power. One day later, Leszek Miller, the Polish premier was forced to resign. In June, Czech social democrat Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla followed suit, and in August, the head of the Center-Left government of Hungary, Peter Medgyessy, was also forced to resign. "Too weak," "lacks energy," "cannot communicate effectively"—these were some of the accusations lodged against them. In spite of the fact that all three leaders where very popular at the beginning of their terms, it appeared that the initial success of their materialist-redistributive politics faded quickly. None of these countries was in bad shape economically—on the contrary, they were experiencing economic booms—yet political observers sensed that there was a crisis in the leadership. This situation had clear ties to EU accession. A national consensus supported the European accession almost everywhere: EU membership seemed logical and would clearly serve the common good. So, once the long-held goal of EU accession was achieved, why did these governments collapse? Was it just coincidence that all three were replaced by much younger prime ministers with very different outlooks from their predecessors? The answers to these questions are directly related to the fact that EU enlargement has brought the region to a new stage in its development, and one in which the former communists need to redefine their political roles. Indeed, this stage could be interpreted as the end of postcommunism.
Using age-structure data, Richard Cincotta assesses the fragility of existing liberal democracies and forecasts when new ones will emerge.