In June 1994, five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall symbolically ended the Communist hold on Eastern Europe, only a quarter of the eligible voters turned out for the local elections in Poland. Elections in Hungary and the Czech Republic and referenda in Lithuania have been plagued by similarly low turnouts. Even in countries where voter turnout was high in the first post-Communist elections, the number of people who say they intend to cast ballots in upcoming elections has dropped, an indication of declining turnout. This paper examines civil society, the participatory culture, and public legitimation in the region, as well as democratization policies.
This publication contains papers from the two years of a competition which gave grants to PhDs to write papers on democracy. Chapters in this book shift the focus of studies on institutions to questions of efficiency and accountability, examine how democracy functions at subnational levels, and explore how concerns over gender and race affect our understanding of democratic governance.
When we manage resources sustainably and practice good governance, we promote cultures of peace, says Wangari Maathai.
June 2004 - As eight post-communist countries entered the EU last May, Romania was among the few applicant countries that did not manage to implement the accession criteria. Like the other applicant countries, Romania has been aggressively lobbying to enter Western institutions and it has been successful in arguing for its geostrategic importance in Europe, as is reflected by the fact that it was admitted to NATO last June. Yet, despite the strides it has taken and its commitment to recreating the western ideal at home, Romania is still far behind most of its neighbors in its transition from communism to liberal democracy. Here, I will attempt to address the major obstacles to Romania's progress and the country's prospects for stepping up the pace of reforms in the near future.
This volume explores one of the crucial intersections of political and economic change: how the reform of the central state in the form of policies of decentralization has affected democratic governance in different countries and at different levels of society.The book is a product of a two-year project on decentralization which included both national-level and comparative research.
October 1998 - Although opposition political parties won a decisive victory in September's parliamentary elections in Slovakia, their triumph was made possible by the country's non-political civil society. No group did more to overturn the authoritarian rule of Vladimir Meciar than the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of Slovakia's third sector. In fact, public opinion polling and surveys had indicated for more than a year that the opposition would win--if Slovakia's citizens understood what was at stake and turned out to vote.
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December 1997 - Speaking at a Noon Discussion, Krzysztof Jasiewicz reminded his audience that it was exactly fifteen years ago, on December 13, 1981, that General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law in Poland in order to suppress Solidarity. If someone had told him then that in fifteen years Aleksander Kwasniewski would be president of Poland, Jasiewicz would have said, "Oh, sure, that's quite likely. If Jaruzelski dies, and Mieczyslaw Rakowski dies, then Kwasniewski is a likely candidate for succession." If, however, someone had told him that between Jaruzelski and Kwasniewski's tenures, the presidency would belong to Lech Walesa, he would have been mystified. What has in fact happened is proof for Jasiewicz that the totalitarian model of succession has been fully replaced by the mechanisms of pluralist democracy.
With the collapse of state socialism in 1989, the formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe (hereafter CEE) had no choice but to shake off their deeply ingrained Cold War mentality and try to take their place in a world characterized by globalization and increased regional integration. Their “return to Europe,” or integration into the structures of the European Community/European Union (EC/EU), passed an important milestone in 1993, when the EU made the historic decision to enlarge eastwards and accept new members from the formerly communist countries. Accession negotiations opened in spring 1998 for "fast-track" countries (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Estonia), and in February 2000 for "slow-track" countries (Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia, and Lithuania). This paper focuses on the CEE countries’ “accession perspective”—their motives, expectations, deliberations, and practical difficulties as they strive to become part of the EU’s anticipated eastward enlargement.
This report results from a 2002 conference held to evaluate the ten years following the accord between El Salvador's government and guerrillas of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. The conference aimed to assess the nature of the democratic transition and related socio-economic developments in the post-war era.