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Between Past and Future

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Sorin Antohi

II. Winners and Losers in the Great Transformation

8. Postsocialisms

Valerie Bunce

Texte intégral

Introduction1

  • 1 This chapter serves as the basis for a larger study, “The Political Economy of Postsocialism”, tha (...)

1The purpose of this chapter is to survey the economic and political landscape of postsocialism, to account for the variable political-economic trajectories of East-Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, and to use these observations in order to address some larger questions in the study of regime transition.

  • 2 See Valerie Bunce, Subversive Institutions: The Design and the Destruction of Socialism and the St (...)

2We can begin our survey by noting that there were several reasons to expect similarities among the postsocialist countries. One was the seeming homogeneity of the socialist experience. This was a system, after all, that was remarkably alike in its form and functioning, whether in the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe. Indeed, the structural similarity of these regimes was one reason why they all collapsed (albeit in varying degrees)—and did so at virtually the same time2.

  • 3 For diametrically opposed positions on the influence of the socialist past, contrast, for example, (...)

3Specialists on the region and on comparative democratization and comparative economic liberalization have been engaged in a spirited debate about both the content and the importance of historical legacies for regime transition and consolidation. While some have taken the position that the past is less important than, say, more proximate factors, such as the mode of transition and where these regimes are heading (as opposed to where they have been3), none of these arguments challenge one essential point: State socialism presents perhaps the strongest case we have for the power of the past. This is because the political-economic system was a distinctive form of dictatorship, unusually invasive and regionally encased. Moreover, it was long in place and was the heir to a well-established authoritarian tradition (excepting interwar Czechoslovakia and the abortive and even briefer experiences with quasi-democratic forms of government elsewhere in East-Central Europe during the 1920s). Thus, if we give any credence to historical institutionalism, with its emphasis on the power of the past in narrowing the range of alternative futures, then the commonalities of socialism and the timing of its end at the least should have constrained the range of possible postsocialist pathways.

4The second reason to have anticipated little variance in postsocialist developments is more proximate to regime transition. It was not just that these regimes ended at roughly the same time; it was also that the larger world into which the successor regimes entered was remarkably consensual in its ideological messages. By the close of the 1980s, liberalism in politics and economics had become the hegemonic standard; few incentives and, thus, opportunities were available to countries to embark on other paths of development; and the international order, because of unprecedented consensus and the resources of international institutions, had become a very powerful influence on domestic developments. This would seem to have been unusually the case, moreover, where regimes were new, economies shattered, and states weak—as throughout the postcommunist world (and, for that matter, Africa).

  • 4 See especially Greskovits, “Rival Views”.

5Thus, the homogeneity of the socialist past and the homogeneity of the global political economy both pointed to the same prediction: the postsocialist regimes would resemble one another in form and functioning. However, the content of that resemblance was another issue, depending upon the emphasis placed on the regional past versus the global present and the extent to which either determinant of outcomes was read as facilitating or undermining capitalism and democracy4. Thus, there were those for which the scenario for postsocialism was gloomy, with images of disarray, despair, and despots, as the “civilizations” of liberalism and state socialism clashed with each other. However, the picture that emerged in other investigations was a rosy one. Here, the argument was either that certain elements of the socialist past were helpful to a liberal outcome or that the socialist past, while illiberal, was replaced decisively by a new order defined and defended by democrats and capitalists. In either event, Eastern Europe, it was assumed, was well positioned to join the West.

The Reality of Diversity

  • 5 On the Russian case, see, for example, M. Steven Fish, “The Predicament of Russian Liberalism: Evi (...)
  • 6 See, for example, the results of surveys of entrepreneurs conducted by the World Bank regarding th (...)
  • 7 See, for instance, Martin Krygier, “Virtuous Circles: Antipodean Reflections on Power, Institution (...)

6It has now been ten years since the collapse of socialism began in East-Central Europe. There have been, to be sure, certain commonalities among the postsocialist states. These include, for example, the distinctive socioeconomic profile of these states when compared with other countries at the same level of economic development (for example, unusually high rates of literacy and urbanization, along with an unusually egalitarian distribution of income, even some years into the transformation); the enormous economic costs of the transition to capitalism; continuing difficulties associated with the privatization of large state enterprises; considerable corruption accompanying the establishment of new forms of property and property relations (even, recently, in the Czech Republic, a country that was widely thought to be “deviant” in this respect); rising crime rates; slow crystallization of party systems5; substantial public dissatisfaction with the performance of political leaders and the newly created political and economic institutions; limitations in—if not the absence in some cases of—the rule of law (including a legal framework for economic activity6); and a working class that is weak, disorganized, and dispirited7.

  • 8 These figures are drawn from the World Bank, World Development Report: The State in a Changing Wor (...)

7These rough similarities aside, however, the dominant pattern of post-socialism has been one of variation, not uniformity. To take some economic extremes as illustrative: the ratio of the labor force in agriculture is fifty-five percent in Albania and five percent in Slovenia; Slovenia’s income per capita is seventeen times that of Azerbaijan; Poland’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 1997 was eleven percent larger than what it had been in 1989 (which was the strongest performance in the region), whereas the Georgian and Bosnian GDPs in 1997 were only slightly over one-third of their 1989 size; and foreign direct investment in postsocialist Hungary accounts for nearly one-third of all such investment in a region composed of twenty-six states8. On the political side (which is less easy to summarize with numbers), we can offer the following examples. Only five of the states in the region existed in their present form during the socialist era (Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, and Romania); another three were states during the interwar period, but not during the cold war era (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania); and the remaining nineteen are new formations (though some of these, such as Serbia, have historical claims to independent statehood).

  • 9 See especially Valere Gagnon, “Bosnian Federalism and the Institutionalization of Ethnic Division” (...)

8If we shift our attention from states to regimes, we see that the twenty-seven new regimes in the region represent the full spectrum of political possibilities. On one axis, we can compare regime form, where the range extends from fully democratic to partially democratic to largely authoritarian to fully authoritarian orders. On the other axis, we can look at the variance in “regimeness”, or the degree to which there is a single regime in place with full institutional expression, settled borders, common identities, and public and elite compliance. Here, for instance, the contrast runs from Hungary, where neither the state nor the regime is in question, to Bosnia, where both are today subjects of considerable contestation9.

9The postsocialist experience, therefore, has been one of significant economic and political variety. Indeed, this region seems to be a microcosm of the world, though a large one, since this area represents more than one-fifth of the world’s land mass and about one-sixth of its states.

10How diverse is postsocialism? What explains the variable political and economic paths the regimes in the region have taken? It is to these questions that I now turn. I will begin with the economic side of the equation.

Economic Variability

11In Tables 8.1-3, I present some economic data that provide a comparative overview of postsocialist developments. The picture that emerges is, of course, one of remarkable diversity in such areas as level of development, size of the agricultural labor force, economic growth, income distribution, and implementation of economic reforms (or the size of the private sector in the economy and a combined measure that includes this along with liberalization of markets, foreign trade, and domestic prices).

12A closer look at these tables (supplemented by some other data) reveals some important patterns. First, there is the disastrous economic performance of postsocialism, particularly in the early years. For example, the region’s economies declined by an average of 7.6 percent from 1990 to 1992; the average economic “growth” of the region from 1989 to 1998 was -1.0 percent (a figure that would be even lower if we were to include very rough estimates of the Bosnian and Serbian-Montenegrin economies and, most recently, the impact of the current Russian economic crisis); it was only in 1997 that this postsocialist region first registered any economic growth (a whopping 1.4 percent); and only two countries in the region—Poland and Slovenia—managed to register actual growth in real GDP from 1989 to (projected) 1998.

  • 10 See Béla Greskovits, The Political Economy of Protest and Patience (Budapest: Central European Uni (...)
  • 11 See The World Bank, World Development Report, 234-
  • 12 These figures were calculated from the World Bank, World Development Report, 214-15. For a discuss (...)

13These trends are all the more striking once we place them in a larger context. Here, it is useful to note the following. First, the economic decline of the region in the first five or so years of postsocialism was greater than that registered by economies during the Great Depression10. Second, if we take comparable years and comparable measures (or average annual GDP growth, 1990-1995, as measured by the World Bank), the economic growth rates for southern Europe (Greece, Portugal, Spain) and Latin America—two other regions undergoing democratization and economic reforms—were approximately three times as high as those registered for the postsocialist countries11. At the same time, the variance in postsocialist economic performance—or the contrast between 2.4 percent for Poland and -26.9 percent for Georgia—is far greater than that for Latin America—or the spread between 6.1 percent for Chile and -5.4 percent for Nicaragua12.

Table 8.1 Economic Development and Economic Growth

Table 8.1 Economic Development and Economic Growth

14Sources: The World Bank, World Development Report: The State in a Changing World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 214-215, 220-221; Grzegorz Kolodko, “Equity Issues in Policy-Making in Transition Economies” (Paper presented at the Conference on Economic Policy and Equity, 8-9 June 1998), 40; Martin Raiser and Peter Sanfrey, “Statistical Review” Economics of Transition 6:1 (1998), 248, 251. The figures for Bosnia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan are very rough estimates and may not be comparable to those for the other countries in this table.

Table 8.2 Economic Reform and Income Distribution

Table 8.2 Economic Reform and Income Distribution

15Sources: Kolodko, “Equity Issues in Policy-Making”, 18; M. Steven Fish, “The Determinents of Economic Reform in the Postcommunist World”, East European Politics and Societies 12:1 (Winter 1998), 34; Nicholas Stem, “The Transition in Eastern Europe and the FSU: Some Strategic Lessons from the Experiences of 25 Countries in Six Years” (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Working Paper, 18 April 1997), 19.

  • 13 See the World Bank, World Development Report, 222—23. For example, while the average Gini coeffici (...)
  • 14 World Bank, World Development Report, 5, 37. More specifically, the Commonwealth of Independent St (...)

16What I am suggesting, therefore, is that the new regimes in the post-socialist world are distinctive with respect to both their economic diversity and the overall severity of their recent economic downturns. However, this is not the only way in which postsocialism stands out. These countries are also unusual in three other respects, all of which testify, as did the costs of economic transformation, to the powerful impact of the socialist past. One is that the agrarian sector in these countries is very small, given the norm for all countries at a matching level of economic development. Another is that income distribution is (still) unusually equal, even when we allow for level of economic development13. Finally, there is the problem, unusually pronounced in the postsocialist context, of states that fail to provide a stable and predictable business environment. On the basis of a recent survey of local entrepreneurs in sixty-nine countries, the World Bank concluded that the Commonwealth of Independent States in particular stood out among the world’s regions—i.e. East-Central Europe, Subsaharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Southern and Southeastern Asia, and the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development—in its failure to provide law and order, security of property rights, and predictability of both rule application and policy implementation (given, in particular, corruption, an unreliable judiciary, and unstable governments14).

Table 8.3 Annual Growth of Real GDP

Table 8.3 Annual Growth of Real GDP

17Sources: Raiser and Sanfrey, “Statistical Review”, 251.

  • 15 There has also been a dramatic decline in inflation. While in 1992, the average rate of inflation (...)
  • 16 For evidence on these points, also see Grzegorz Kolodko, “Equity Issues in Policymaking in Transit (...)

18Tables 8.1-3 also illustrate several other characteristics of postsocialist variation. One is that there seem to be two distinct “regions” within the region. Thus, the economic profile of the former Soviet Union contrasts sharply with that of East-Central Europe, whether the focus is on adoption of economic reforms or on measures of economic performance. The Baltic states manage to bridge the two areas, given their relatively high economic reform scores, but their poor economic performance. Put simply, political leaders in the Soviet successor regimes have been less likely than their counterparts in East-Central Europe to introduce economic reforms, and the economies in the former Soviet Union have on the whole contracted far more sharply than the postsocialist economies to the West. The other and related consideration is temporal. While the recessionary effects of the economic transformation were undeniably large in the early years of postsocialism and, indeed, were of such magnitude that only one economy in the region managed to be larger in 1997 than it was in 1989. these effects seem to be, nonetheless, transitory in many instances15. Thus, for example, beginning in 1993, the East-Central European economies, when taken as a whole, began to grow, and they have continued to do so in subsequent years. While similar in overall pattern, however, economic performance over time in the former Soviet Union varies in its details. There, the economic downturn appeared later, and it has lasted a good deal longer. What seems to distinguish East-Central Europe (including the Baltic states) from the Soviet successor states, therefore, are three related factors: whether there was an economic reform, how long the economic slide lasted, and when the economy began to recover16.

Table 8.4 Economic Reform and Economic Performance

Table 8.4 Economic Reform and Economic Performance

19Sources: See Tables 8.1 and 8.2.

  • 17 Of course, the recent downturn of the Russian economy suggests some care when making these general (...)
  • 18 For instance, it has been argued that the Russian experience is unusual from the perspective of th (...)
  • 19 To this list can be added one other way in which the Russian experience has been distinctive: the (...)
  • 20 Russia incurred costs, of course, from introducing economic reform later in the transitional proce (...)

20Tables 8.1-3 also allow us to address in a limited way a question that has received considerable attention: the typicality of the Russian experience. On the one hand, Russia lies in many respects at the regional economic mean. For example, the Russian level of economic development is slightly above the regional average (or $2240 versus $211117), as is the size of its urban sector; its economic reform score is slightly above average for the region as a whole, as is the private sector share of the economy; and its rate of economic growth is somewhat below the regional average for 1990-1997 (or -7.7 percent versus -5.3 percent). On these dimensions, therefore, Russia does not stand out as unusual. On the other hand, Russia does seem to be exceptional—at least by regional economic standards—in certain ways18. For example, the distribution of income in Russia, while typical of the region at the beginning of the transformation, is now unusually unequal (though more typical within the larger setting of countries at roughly the same level of economic development); foreign trade seems to play an unusually small role in the Russian economy; and Russia introduced economic reforms midstream, a rare example within the region19. The more common pattern in postsocialism has been to introduce significant reforms early (with a marked tendency for them to be sustained), to avoid such reforms, or to introduce piecemeal measures accompanied by significant and enduring political conflict20.

21These three tables also illustrate some correlation among categories. In particular, there seems to be a modest relationship between level of economic development (as indicated by gross national product [GNP] per capita or, alternatively, by the size of the agricultural labor force) and economic reform score and a stronger correlation between economic reform score and economic performance. These correlations can be most easily seen once we group our countries into two categories: those with moderate to high economic reform scores (ranging from 5.9 to 8.2) and those with lower scores (from 1.5 to 5.5). Thus, as Table 4 indicates, the two groups present a clear contrast in terms of average GNP per capita, average size of the agricultural sector, and average growth. One should not, of course, read too much into these data—especially given recent changes in some of these cases with respect to economic performance and economic reform (as in, say, the Albanian case) and to the effects of choosing one cut-off point over another. However, at the very least we can observe that: (1) economic reform seems to have economic payoffs, especially following initial recessionary effects (which tend to be shorter in duration in reformed contexts); and (2) the more economically developed countries in the region seem to be more likely to implement economic reforms. A final conclusion is also warranted, especially in view of the differential capacity of these countries to attract foreign investment. Put simply: “them that has, gets”.

Accounting for Economic Variability

  • 21 M. Steven Fish, “The Determinents of Economic Reform in the Post-Communist World”, East European P (...)

22Let us now shift our attention from description to explanation. Here, the key question involves identifying factors that seem to explain differences in economic reform scores among the postsocialist countries. In a recent and careful statistical study that takes a number of possible social, cultural, political, and economic factors into account (including some of the factors in Tables 8.1 and 8.2), Steve Fish has concluded that the single best predictor of economic reform in the postsocialist world appears to be the outcome of the first competitive election21. Put in more straightforward terms: Economic reforms were more likely to be introduced, implemented, and sustained if the former communists lost the initial election following the collapse of communist party hegemony. This seems to be the case, moreover, whatever the political orientation of the opposition and their constituency base, and if that opposition included former communists among its ranks. Here we can contrast, for example, three parties that were victorious in 1990 and that, after winning, introduced significant economic reforms: the Croatian Democratic Union, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, and the Czechoslovak Civic Forum/Public Against Violence. Where the former communists won the first postsocialist election, however, one of two patterns materialized: either economic reforms were introduced, but then were sabotaged (as in, say, Bulgaria), or they were never seriously considered or fully implemented (the dominant pattern represented in Belarus, Serbia-Montenegro, Ukraine, and much of Central Asia and the Transcaucasus). In the first instance, the former communists faced a highly competitive political environment and in the second, a less competitive one. Russia, of course, fits the first model, given its midstream and compromised economic reform and given the contrasting electoral outcomes for the parliament versus the presidency.

  • 22 For example, as Steve Fish has noted, ninety-six percent of individuals that owned or worked in sm (...)

23The statistical support for this argument is strong. However, the real trick is explaining the explanation. Put more directly: What is it about the outcome of the first election that affects economic reform? We could take the obvious route and argue that this is simply a question of interests and ideology. Thus, a liberal opposition with, by definition, no stake in the old order would prefer economic reform to the alternatives. When joined with an electoral mandate, desire for economic reforms was then combined with considerable capacity to carry through such reforms. And once the reforms were in place, they generated supporters that allowed the reforms to continue22. On the other hand, the former communists were illiberal, again by definition, and had vested interests in defending the old order. With an electoral mandate, they were able to combine resistance to such reforms with political power—though not usually at the level they once enjoyed, given a more competitive order and given often narrow or ambiguous electoral victories.

  • 23 Here, I am referring, for example, to the Croatian Democratic Union (or HDZ). There, we might expl (...)
  • 24 Denise V. Powers and James H. Cox, “Echoes from the Past: The Relationship between Satisfaction wi (...)

24This argument is, however, problematic in several ways. One is that the liberal credentials of at least some of the victorious opposition forces are questionable23. At the very least, what was common to the winning oppositions was not a liberal ideology so much as an anticommunist project. This introduces an important consideration: whether we should see economic reform as a commitment to a liberal economy (though in many instances this was crucial) or, alternatively, as a powerful mechanism (one of several) to root out the old order. The latter interpretation makes more sense because it identifies a clear commonality among the politically successful opposition forces; it recognizes the diametrically opposed principles defining capitalism and socialism; it treats economic reforms, as a result, as a means of using the former to end the latter; and it resonates with the thrust of public opinion at the time when and in the places where these reforms were introduced24.

  • 25 It has been argued that the same problem exists in the Latin American context, where import substi (...)

25This interpretation is also superior because it helps account for some puzzling aspects of an exercise that plugs a classically economic interest argument into the postsocialist context: the absence of either classes or sectors with vested interests in a capitalist economy25 and the obvious uncertainty of decision-makers regarding the benefits, political as well as economic, of embarking on the historically unprecedented transition from socialism to capitalism. Thus, just as there were few groups that could be confident about payoffs from the economic transition, so the economic and, therefore, political costs of such a transition, at least in the short-term, were unknown but logically high. Indeed, many of the very people who introduced these economic reforms were members of the Academy of Sciences—an overemployed and economically inefficient public sector that could expect to dwindle sharply in budgets (and, thus, in personnel) once economic reforms began to make their presence felt. What I am suggesting, therefore, is that the overarching commitment to either completing or forestalling the revolution begun in 1989 and the necessarily conjoined political and economic form of that commitment, rather than the economic interests of decision-makers and their political constituencies, seem to do a better job of making sense of this particular and peculiar context.

  • 26 See, for example, John Walton and David Seddon, Free Markets and Food Riots: The Politics of Globa (...)

26If we accept the argument that the core divide in the region was between those parties that had power and wanted to complete the revolution versus those parties that also had power but wanted to maintain the ancien régime (with a number of cases showing middling economic reforms and, not surprisingly, a rough balance between the two forces), then we are still left with some unanswered questions. One is why the opposition was so committed to destroying the socialist economy, even when that would seemingly entail considerable political costs, particularly in the short term—which is, after all, what democratic politics is usually about. I can suggest two factors that supported the rush to economic reform. One is the recent empirical record of capitalism versus socialism and the demonstrable success of both economic reforms and structural adjustment packages in other parts of the world (albeit often producing political turmoil in the process26). There was, in short, a widespread understanding that the preferable option, particularly in the medium and long run, was economic reform—an option that would generate in time both economic growth and political support.

  • 27 See, for instance, the public opinion data cited by David Ost, “Labor, Class and Democracy: Shapin (...)

27The other is that the public in Hungary, Poland, then the Baltic states, Czechoslovakia, and Slovenia managed to express its support for ending socialism in two powerful ways. If the opposition did not digest this message when communist party hegemony ended (in many instances through widespread public protests), then they certainly must have done so when publics voted them into power. Thus, one could argue that where the opposition was victorious, it enjoyed not just a mandate to rule, but also an unusually clear message about what ruling should entail27. Both of these political assets encouraged decision-makers to introduce economic reforms while giving them the luxury of assuming—rare in democratic politics—that they had some political time to show economic results.

  • 28 It has been commonplace in studies of the collapse of regimes and states in the region to presume (...)
  • 29 See Ost, “Labor, Class, and Democracy”; Grzegorz Kolodko and D. Mario Nuti, “The Polish Alternativ (...)

28Thus, what mattered in these cases was that there was a national— and, indeed, nationalist28—consensus around policies such as economic reform that would root out socialism. This was also aided, of course, by the idealized understanding that the public in these states had of capitalism—an understanding that spoke of capitalist liberal democracy as the welcome and eagerly anticipated “other” of state socialism and that was reinforced by the underestimation (perhaps out of ignorance and perhaps for more self-serving reasons) of the costs of these reforms put forward by policy-makers and political activists29. In this sense, it was not so much economic interests as, I would argue, a variant of the public interest that produced these reforms and that rendered them politically tolerable as well. However, where such consensus was missing and where that translated into different kinds of electoral results, decisions about such reforms were influenced by the familiar considerations of self-interest. Just as the former communists favored a continuation of the old system in some form (or at least time to position themselves well in the event that a new order would evolve), so they quite rightly feared the economic and, therefore, political costs of moving in the other direction—with the political costs understood not just as the loss of their influence through privatization and deregulation of the economy, but also as political unrest. The understandable fear, therefore, was that economic reforms could very well undercut both their economic and political power—a process that was already underway as a consequence of the deregulation of their political hegemony.

  • 30 The usual argument, of course, is the development of civil society. I have avoided this terminolog (...)

29This, then, leads to a final question: Why did the opposition forces win in a few cases and lose in most of them? Thus far, we have discussed economic reforms as a product of proximate influences—in particular, the interests, economic and political, and the resources, again economic and political, of the opposition versus the former communists. However, now we need to bring in the socialist past. It is not accidental (to borrow communist parlance for a moment) that the opposition won the first election in those countries where there had been sizeable, cross-class, and relatively consensual mass protests during the socialist era. These protests were sometimes considerable and sometimes only a few years prior to the end of communist party hegemony—contrasting here, for instance, Poland in 1956 and in 1980-1981, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Croatia in 1971-1972, and Armenia in 1980 versus Slovenia from 1987 to 1991 and the Baltic states from 1988 to 1990. Moreover, these protests were sometimes directed solely at the regimes (as in the earlier Polish, Hungarian, and Czechoslovak cases, along with Czechoslovakia in 1989); primarily at the state (as in Croatia and Armenia); or at both (as with the Baltic and Slovenian cases, along with Czechoslovakia in 1968 and 1989). Whether focussed on the regime and/or the state and whether early or late in the evolution of state socialism, however, these protests, I would suggest, shared one characteristic. They created counterregimes- (and sometimes counterstates-) in-waiting. This meant that regime collapse could be quickly followed by new regime construction; that is, by a process wherein the old system was quickly and thoroughly deregulated, the opposition won the first elections handily, and the revolutionary momentum was continued through the introduction of thorough-going economic reforms30.

  • 31 As Adam Przeworski once argued when analyzing the rise of Solidarity in Poland, regimes are in tro (...)
  • 32 Vesna Pusic, for example, has made a persuasive argument that a major problem in the Balkans has b (...)

30What I am suggesting, therefore, is that economic reforms were part of the revolutionary project, and that some countries—a minority in the region—were well-endowed because of their socialist pasts to carry through on that project once communist party hegemony ended. Other countries, however, had very different experiences during socialism and, thus, different political and economic capacities once communist party hegemony ended. In those cases the opposition was weak, there was little consensus regarding alternative economic and political futures (or much of a sense that alternatives were even available31), and the development of counterregimes had to occur after the collapse of communist party hegemony and, thus, in an environment that was more fluid and lacking the “discipline” of a system-in-place that identified a common enemy and that facilitated a consensus around “not state socialism,” or capitalist liberal democracy. Thus, in some countries there were two well-defined alternatives in place, publics and oppositional elites could move quickly to embrace the liberal option once communist party hegemony ended, and the quick result was competition that was intraregime in form; but in most other countries in the region, alternatives lacked definition, support for these was fragmented, regime choice was hedged, and competition, as a result, was either prevented or took an interregime form32.

  • 33 One study that recognizes the duality of the socialist past in this respect is Stephen Crowley, Ho (...)

31We can now conclude this discussion of the economic diversity of postsocialism by noting one theme that runs throughout these data and these explanations. That is, the variance in postsocialist economies and the ways in which this variance testifies not to the power of the present and future in structuring what happened after socialism but, rather, to the opposite: the power of the socialist past. In this sense, while the similarities of that past produced some commonalities in the postsocialist project, it was the diversity of the state socialist experience that was crucial in producing diverse points of economic and, it would appear, political departure33. State socialism, in short, remained important long after it exited from the political stage, and it functioned as both a homogenizing and as a diversifying force.

Political Diversity

32It is far more difficult to provide summary measures of the political variations among postsocialist regimes. This is not just because power— the measure of politics—lacks the quantitative simplicity of money. The difficulty also lies in some other complications. One is that there is no consensus regarding the meaning or the measurement of the three most important aspects of politics that speak directly to the nature and quality of governance in the postsocialist world: political stability, state strength, and regime type (or the continuum ranging from democracy to dictatorship). Another is that each of these political indicators are multidimensional; their dimensions do not necessarily correlate and neither, for that matter, do the three indicators. For instance, while Kazakhstan is stable but not very democratic, Bulgaria is unstable but far more democratic; while Latvia looks quite democratic with respect to the provision of political liberties and civil rights, its exclusionary policies regarding voting rights for minority populations make it less democratic; and while Russia has a fully inclusive electorate and free and fair elections, the weakness of its state and the continuing war of laws between the center and the regions mean that elected officials there, particularly at the center, lack the capacity to translate public preferences into public policy and, therefore, to provide genuine accountability. Finally, there is some flux over time in country “scores” on these indicators, however they are measured. Thus, if we were to focus on the first years of the transformation, we might judge Albania, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan as presenting an impressive democratic profile. However, subsequent developments in these three countries suggest that such a conclusion would have been premature or, at the very least, time-bound.

33Perhaps the best way to begin our political assessment is to define some terms. Political stability, in my view, is the capacity of the regime (or the organization of political power) and the state (or a political entity defined by space and granted a monopoly in the exercise of coercion) to provide political order. It implies such characteristics as relatively unchanging rules of the political game that are recognized by all and inform the behavior of all, the existence of a hegemonic regime (as opposed to competitive regimes), governments that function effectively, and physical boundaries that are clearly defined and uncontested. Instability, therefore, is indicated by high levels of social disorder, secessionist pressures, contestation over the form of the regime, high rates of governmental turnover, and governments that cannot decide or, if deciding, cannot implement. Put simply then, instability testifies to the failure of a regime and/or a state to be hegemonic— or without competitors—and to function effectively.

  • 34 For a sampling, see Robert Dahl, Polyarchy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971); Adam Przewors (...)
  • 35 See Przeworski, Democracy and the Market; Dahl, Polyarchy; Valerie Bunce, “Stalinism and the Manag (...)
  • 36 As defined in detail by Freedom House. See “The Comparative Survey of Freedom”, Freedom Review 28: (...)

34The other aspect of politics that is of interest is regime type, or the contrast between democracy and dictatorship and the many variations situated between these two poles. There are, of course, many definitions of democracy34. Some focus on substance and others on procedures, some are detailed and others parsimonious, and some set a high standard that relatively few countries can meet, whereas others are less discriminating. For our purposes, we can follow the lead of Adam Przeworski by defining democracy as that system of governance that combines freedom, uncertain results, and certain procedures (a definition which, by the way, works for capitalism as well35). This implies three clusters of conditions. One is freedom, or whether members of the political community have the full array of civil liberties and political rights36. The second is if political results are in fact uncertain: that is, if politics is competitive and competition is institutionalized through parties that offer ideological choice, if elections are regularly held and are free and fair, if governing mandates are provisional, and, as a result of all these factors, if politicians are fully accountable to the electorate. The final category, procedural certainty, refers to the rule of law, the control of elected officials over the bureaucracy, and a legal and administrative order that is hegemonic and transparent, commands compliance, and is consistent across time, circumstances, and space.

Table 8.5 Freedom Rating

Table 8.5 Freedom Rating

35Source: “The Comparative Survey of Freedom”, Freedom Review 28:1(1997), 21-22. A single asterisk connotes a recent falling score in civil liberties and political rights, or both, and a double asterisk connotes a recent improvement.

36Beneath these three aspects of democracy, therefore, are complex clusters of preconditions. Moreover, implied in this elaboration is a hierarchy of traits that distinguish among dictatorships (where not even the first or second conditions are met); incomplete democracies (or those countries that are free and competitive, but that lack, say, full political inclusion and/or certain procedures); and political orders that are full-scale democracies, or what has been variously termed “sustainable” and “consolidated” democratic orders (where all three sets of conditions are present).

37We can now apply these definitions of stability and democracy to the postsocialist region. With respect to stability, we can assign these countries (with a great deal of trepidation, I must admit) to three groups: (1) highly stable countries, or where both the regime and the state are consolidated and in which government is reasonably effective (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, and, arguably, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan); (2) less stable countries, or where regimes are not fully consolidated (often combining democratic and authoritarian elements), in which state boundaries are in some dispute, and/or in which governments lack the political (including constitutional) support, the ideological consensus, and the legal-administrative capacity to govern effectively (Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovakia, and Ukraine); and (3) unstable countries, or where the regime and/or the state are—or at least have been—in serious question (Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan). We can certainly debate if some of these country assignments are correct—for example, if Kazakhstan, Russia, and Uzbekistan should be downgraded and if Georgia should, on the basis of recent developments, be upgraded.

38However, whatever our different readings of these cases, one point of consensus would nonetheless emerge: The great majority of the regimes and states in the postsocialist region are not stable. This is hardly a surprising situation, given that only ten years at most have passed since the end of communist party hegemony and given, as well, the revolutionary character of postsocialism. By the latter, I refer to the fact that all the building blocks of politics, economics, and society—or, put bluntly, the state, the nation, the class structure, the economic regime, the political regime, and the relationship between all these and the international system—are in the process of being reformulated. What is more, these processes are happening simultaneously.

39If we assess democratization in the region, we are on somewhat (but only somewhat) firmer ground. In Table 8.5, I summarize recent rankings by Freedom House with respect to the provision of civil liberties and political rights. What these data suggest is that the postsocialist countries vary from liberal to decidedly illiberal, but that one-third of the region (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia) comes reasonably close to the standards of well-established democratic orders. What the Freedom House measures also suggest is that the Latin American countries (including Central America and the Caribbean) are freer than the countries making up the postsocialist world (with an average score in Latin America of 2.5 and in the postsocialist countries of 3.7).

  • 37 See Philip G. Roeder, “The Triumph of Authoritarianism in Post-Soviet Regimes” (paper presented at (...)

40Attention to the second standard of democratization, however, lowers the number of robust democracies in the postsocialist world. As Philip Roeder has recently argued, at least on the question of electoral inclusion, the postsocialist states divide into three groups: those states that have fully inclusive electorates and thereby meet a necessary precondition for democracy (which describes most of the region, albeit at varying times during postsocialism); those states that exclude ten to twenty-five percent of the potential electorate (at various points, Albania, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan); and those that exclude (and consistently) one-quarter or more of the potential electorate (Estonia and Latvia37). When placed beside the Freedom House measures, these indicators of electoral inclusion suggest only a modest overlap. This leads to two observations. One is that democratization in the post-socialist context is a highly uneven process—not just across countries, but also over time and across dimensions. The other is that very few of the postsocialist regimes could be termed full-scale democracies—that is, fully inclusive and fully free. In particular, only the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia—or about one-seventh of the region— meet this very high standard.

  • 38 Murrell, “How Far Has the Transition Progressed?” 33.

41The third dimension of democracy, procedural certainty, is harder to measure. However, the secondary literature suggests that this is a problem (albeit in varying degrees) in all of the postsocialist countries. This is not just because so many political institutions are new, but also because of the legacies of the socialist past (and, indeed, the past before that past). One of the underlying principles of state socialism, we must remember, was capricious decision-making and rule application, along with procedures that could be termed, at best, cloudy. Moreover, individual decision-makers mattered a great deal in a context where there were, in effect, institutions instead of institutionalization. All this was not accidental. These characteristics gave the communist party one more way to control society and, within the party-state itself, one more way for elites “above” to control—and through uncertainty, manipulate— elites “below” them. Furthermore, some of these countries suffer from poor constitutional design. The problem is partly that the new constitutions were often grafted onto their socialist era variants, and partly that constitutions, especially when enacted later rather than sooner, reflect the complex and tense distribution of power between the former communists and the opposition. Here, the Russian and Ukrainian cases are illustrative. As Peter Murrell recently observed for the former: “Russia has only half-succeeded in following Napoleon’s dictum that the best constitutions are short and confused38.”

  • 39 This contrast reflects, most obviously, the degree to which the revolution that ended communist pa (...)

42These influences aside, however, one can still make a relatively clear distinction among the postsocialist countries. There seems to be a considerable gulf separating those few countries where procedures have managed to become relatively routinized and transparent—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, and, perhaps, the Baltic states (despite the contrasting timing in constitutional adoption)—from the rest of the region, where the state socialist past has interacted with dramatic changes in recent years to produce an administrative, political, and economic environment that is unusually confused, capricious, ever-changing, and, therefore, highly unpredictable39. Indeed, this is precisely the picture that emerges for the Commonwealth of Independent States, in particular in the already noted 1996 World Bank survey of entrepreneurs in sixty-nine countries.

43What do these exercises in political comparison suggest? Most obviously, they indicate that a majority of the regimes and states in the region are unstable and, at most, partially democratic. The regional norm, therefore, is not the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia. Rather, it is Russia, with its fuzzy state, its fuzzy democracy, and, to echo an earlier observation, its fuzzy property.

  • 40 Here, I am referring to those arguments regarding the impact of economic development on democratiz (...)
  • 41 See, for example, Fish, “The Determinents”; Alfred Stepan and Cindy Skach, “Constitutional Framewo (...)

44How can we explain these patterns? There are a variety of factors that, while logical and suggestive, do not seem to produce a robust explanation. For example, while all the stable and fully democratic cases are rich and homogeneous by regional comparative standards, some relatively rich states score low on both democratization and political stability (Croatia, Slovakia, and Ukraine) and some homogeneous states do the same (Albania and Armenia40). Moreover, state age is not all that helpful a factor, given, for instance, the inclusion of the Czech Republic and Slovenia in the group of stable and fully democratic orders. Finally, factors such as religion, imperial lineage (or inclusion in the Habsburg versus the Russian or Ottoman empires), and institutional design (or parliamentary government versus forms of presidentialism) do not seem to account all that well for these differences41.

  • 42 See M. Steven Fish, “Democratization’s Prerequisites”, Post-Soviet Affairs 14:3 (1998): 212-47; Bu (...)

45There is, however, one factor that seems at least to correlate with democratization. That is economic reform42. Put simply, all of the robust democracies score high on economic reform (with an average score of 7.3); all the postsocialist dictatorships score quite low (an average of 3.2); and the remaining countries, or incomplete democracies, fall in between these two extremes with respect to economic reform. This introduces a question that allows us to combine the discussion on politics with that on economics and leads us to the final issue to be addressed in this paper: Why does democratization correlate with economic reform in the postsocialist context?

Democratization and Economic Reform

46There are two reasons to expect that democratization and economic reform would go together in the postsocialist world. One is that all democracies have had capitalist economies. The other is that democracy and capitalism are based on precisely the same principles, albeit applied to different arenas of human activity: uncertain results combined with certain procedures.

  • 43 See, for example, Thomas M. Callaghy, “Political Passions and Economic Interests”, in Hemmed In: R (...)

47However, alongside these arguments must be placed a series of others that tilt the balance in the direction of presuming tension, not compatibility, between democratization and the transition to capitalism. First, we must remember that capitalist economies have often coexisted—and quite happily—with dictatorial politics. Moreover, just as it would not be in the interests of accountable politicians to introduce painful economic policies (especially when they are courting fickle constituencies lacking strong party identification), so such policies could very well encourage massive popular protest that could, in turn, lead to democratic breakdown. This would seem to be the case particularly where, as in the post-socialist world, political institutions are new and weak and where semi-presidentialism offers the possibility, especially if publics are unhappy, of a sequence of deadlock, concentration of power in the executive’s hands, and suspension of newly won civil liberties and political rights. This scenario describes, of course, Weimar Germany in the first half of the 1930s. Third, in the postsocialist context, vested interests in capitalism are, by definition and history, minimal. Finally, even if we were to doubt these arguments, we would still come face to face with trends in other parts of the world. In Africa, Latin America, and Southern Europe, there have been serious tensions between democratization and economic reform43. This is precisely why specialists in these areas have argued in favor of sequencing, whereby economic reforms are delayed until democracy is consolidated.

48Why, then, do we see this robust and peculiar relationship in the post-socialist world? We can begin to answer this question by following up the argument presented earlier with respect to the impact of founding elections on either continuing or stalling economic and political regime transformation. If we assume that founding elections, like other elections, shape both the incentives and the capacity of policy-makers and, thus, the actions they take, and if we assume as well that the key question in the postsocialist context is one of either destroying or maintaining, to the degree possible, the old order, then it can be argued that a victory of the opposition forces would produce both democratization and economic reform and that the victory of the former communists would undermine both. In this way, then, precisely because of the elections and the context of state socialism, economic reform and democratization become an either/or proposition.

49From this perspective, one of three possibilities would present itself following the end of communist party hegemony. Either a decisive victory by the opposition would “bundle” democratization and economic reform (as in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia); or a decisive triumph by the former communists would foreclose both (as in much of Central Asia); or close elections, where either the former communists barely won or power was divided in its institutional loci between the former communists and the opposition forces (with Bulgaria representative of the former, and Russia and Ukraine representative of the latter), would produce a compromised, uncertain, and highly destabilized transition to democracy and capitalism.

50What I am suggesting, therefore, is that proximate politics—or, in this instance, the outcome of the first competitive election—was, indeed, crucial. However, these elections were crucial precisely because of the heritage of the socialist past: that is, if that past had created a large and consensual opposition that could quickly become a powerful political player in a liberalized landscape or if that past had bequeathed a small and divided opposition that could not compete effectively with the former communists. Thus, proximate politics mattered precisely because the past mattered so much, even after, but also especially following, the deregulation of the communist party’s monopoly.

  • 44 Ekiert, “Patterns of Postcommunist Transitions”.

51However this leaves one remaining question: Why didn’t publics in the Czech Republic, Poland, and the like, when faced with the terrible and unexpected burdens of reform, use the considerable and in some instances recently and successfully used democratic tools at their disposal to mount protests against the regime in particular and the liberal turn in economics in general? Of course, many did, though support for both democracy and capitalism remained high44. But they did so at different times, in different ways and, for the most part, at lower rates.

  • 45 The losers were demobilized because a quick transition unsettled interests; because of the conflic (...)
  • 46 Here, I am drawing on the terminology used by Martin Krygier, “Virtuous Circles”. The metaphor can (...)

52Here, we can note the following. First, the consensus that allowed the end of communist party hegemony to be followed by the decisive victory of the opposition in the first elections functioned in effect as a political honeymoon. Put differently, politicians were allowed the luxury, rare in a democratic context (but more likely with large mandates), of longer-term horizons. Second, consensus was built on a simple equation: Democracy and capitalism were the inverse of state socialism and, thus, highly coveted. Finally, as the data in Tables 1-3 indicate, the earlier and more complete the transition to capitalism, the shorter the economic downturn and the faster the return of economic growth. Quick capitalism, in short, generated more winners and faster, while at the same time dividing and demobilizing the losers45. In this way, then, fast track democracy and capitalism created a virtuous circle46. Where the economic and political revolution was stalled, however, the communist party’s monopoly was also deregulated, but mass publics were deprived of democracy, while economic performance was far worse. In these contexts, publics were twice cursed, and the political-economic circle was vicious in form. This, in turn, generated substantial political instability.

53We can now conclude this discussion by combining the economic and political sides of the postsocialist experience. Perhaps the best way to do so is to divide the region into five groups, based upon democratization, political stability, economic reform, and economic performance. The first cluster is composed of those countries—a minority in the region—that, with the victory of the opposition forces, moved quickly to democracy and capitalism, that have consolidated both in a remarkably short period of time, and that, following a relatively short-lived but dramatic recession, have proven themselves to be economically vital. The members of this group are the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia (with Lithuania a possible member, save a slower economic recovery). The next cluster is composed of those countries that also moved quickly to economic reform and democratization but that have failed to sustain either one and that are, as a result, unstable in both economic and political terms. The members of this group include Albania, Armenia, and Kyr-gyzstan. The third group consists of countries where democracy is compromised, which has created considerable political tensions, but where economic reforms are in place and economic performance testifies to that fact. Here, I would place Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, and Slovakia. The fourth group evidences a “medium” score on economic reform, poor economic performance, and democratic orders that are relatively good on paper but severely compromised in practice—for example, by considerable political conflict at the elite level (accompanied by frequent elections and high rates of governmental turnover), by legal and administrative disorder, and/or by limited governmental capacity to enact and implement policy. Members of this cluster—the largest of the five—include Bosnia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. The final group is composed of countries that are oligopolistic in the structure of their economic and political systems and that have managed to maintain (often with an early, liberalized interlude) significant ties to the state socialist past. Members of this group include Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Serbia-Montenegro, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Conclusions

  • 47 See Ekiert, “Patterns of Postcommunist Transition”.

54We can now step away from these detailed comparisons and draw some conclusions. First, the political and economic landscape of postsocialism is extraordinarily diverse and, it must be noted, ever more diverse over time47. Second, by regional standards, the exceptional cases are those that either represent substantial continuity with the state socialist past, not just in leadership, but also in political and economic structures, or those that have made the leap from state socialism to capitalist liberal democracy. The regional norm is to fall in between these two political-economic poles. Not surprisingly, this “neither here nor there” tendency—or hybrid regimes that combine democratic and authoritarian, capitalist and state socialist elements—has produced significant political instability and unusually poor economic performance (which in turn reinforces hybridization). Fourth, there seems to be a correlation between democratization and economic reform in the postsocialist world.

55Finally, a repeating theme in this paper has been the powerful impact of the balance of power between the opposition forces and the former communists. Here, one of three possibilities has presented itself—and has shaped significantly subsequent economic and political developments. When the opposition was strong enough to win the first competitive elections handily, we see rapid and thorough-going economic reforms, the relatively quick consolidation of both democracy and capitalism, a quick return to economic growth, and substantial political stability. Where the former communists have maintained significant influence and the opposition has been small, weak, and fragmented, however, the story is one of limited (if any) economic and political liberalization and often relatively stable authoritarian politics. Finally, where the former communists and the opposition are in rough balance, democratization, like economic reform, has been partial. This has led in turn to disastrous economic performance and considerable political instability.

  • 48 See, for example, Philippe C. Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, “The Conceptual Travels of Transitolo (...)
  • 49 See especially Haggard and Kaufman, “The Political Economy”; Terry Lynn Karl, “Dilemmas of Democra (...)

56We can now step back from these conclusions and use them to address briefly several issues in the study of democratization. The first is the debate over the singularity of socialism and postsocialism48. As I have argued throughout this paper, the political-economic point of departure was unusual in postsocialism, as was the agenda of transformation. Moreover, these differences have translated into distinctive patterns of democratization and economic reform and, just as importantly, into different payoffs attached to the strategies of transformation. Thus, just as the postsocialist world by comparative standards is more urban and more economically egalitarian and features fewer democracies and higher economic costs attached to reform, so the postsocialist world demonstrates a correlation, not a trade-off, between democratization and economic reform. When combined with other data, we can argue that both economic performance and democratization are served in the postsocialist context by a decisive—rather than a partial—break with the authoritarian past. This contrasts sharply with the preference for bridging, particularly with respect to the political and economic cooptation of authoritarians, that figures prominently in the study of democratization in Latin America and Southern Europe49.

57Another issue is the debate over long-term versus short-term influences on democratization. What this study suggests is that the authoritarian past is extraordinarily powerful not just in its many specific legacies, such as the presence or absence of markets, a democratic tradition, or a democratic political culture, but also in shaping both the proximate politics of the transformation and their influence in turn on subsequent economic and political trajectories. In this sense, proximate considerations are important, but can only be understood and documented by reference to the past. Just as importantly, that socialist past in some cases enabled and in most cases undermined the movement toward democracy and capitalism. The key was if a counterregime existed prior to the collapse of communist party hegemony. Where it did, the socialist past became an enabling point of departure for liberal orders. Where it did not, the transformation has been slower and more compromised.

  • 50 Jenő Szűcs, “The Three Historical Regions”.

58This leads to the final issue: the interpretation of difference. Do the varying political and economic scores of the twenty-seven postsocialist countries suggest different trajectories or do they suggest different country locations along what is the same overall trajectory? Put another way: Are we looking at results that are locked into place for the foreseeable future, or are we merely looking at fast and relatively trouble-free transformations to democracy and capitalism versus slower, more troubled, and more detour-prone transformations? Ten years (at most) into this process is not enough time to answer this question. But I would suggest that, in our drive to generate categories and draw conclusions based upon comparative analysis, we not forget that such a question exists. Winners and losers in the race to liberalism, as in the experiences of capitalism and democracy itself, can be, after all, temporary outcomes—with winners in a better position, of course, to continue their successes. This is especially the case since the differences between the frontrunners and the laggards in the postsocialist world may reflect different endowments, different sequencing with respect to regime termination and the formation of ideological alternatives, or different processes by which democracy and capitalism succeed in becoming hegemonic projects. In this sense, the Russian route to democracy might be best understood first by waiting, and second by looking not at the “quick” democratization experience and the literature that has developed around it, but rather by returning to the older literature on democratization that treats this process as long-term and uneven in nature. Thus, Russia and others in the region that have not equaled the Czech, Hungarian, and Slovene success stories might do so with time. However, we should not fall prey to a teleological bias, as was the case for so long, for example, with modernization theory. Rather, what I am suggesting is that we be open to multiple outcomes, that we recognize the temporal constraints of our comparative vistas, that we view the laggards in the race to democratization and capitalism as countries that might very well be following the older and more circuitous route, and that we expand our theoretical horizons to include those studies that predate the current emphasis on quick democratization. Here, what is striking, to me at least, is that the chaos in Russia today looks remarkably like Europe in the early Middle Ages when, as Jenő Szűcs has noted,50 the collapse of order, while extraordinarily costly in the short-term, was quite beneficial to the subsequent development of islands of autonomy. These islands, in turn, became over time the foundation for the rise of liberal thought and action and, thus, capitalism and later, democracy.

Notes

1 This chapter serves as the basis for a larger study, “The Political Economy of Postsocialism”, that is forthcoming in a special issue of Slavic Review (December 1999).

2 See Valerie Bunce, Subversive Institutions: The Design and the Destruction of Socialism and the State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). Also see Steven L. Solnick, Stealing the State: Control and Collapse in Soviet Institutions (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

3 For diametrically opposed positions on the influence of the socialist past, contrast, for example, Ken Jowitt, “The Leninist Legacy”, in Eastern Europe in Revolution, ed. Ivo Banac (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991); versus Adam Przeworski, Democracy and the Market (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). For a summary of these arguments and others that propose competing influences on postsocialist developments (and that divide along the axes of optimism and pessimism), see Béla Greskovits, “Rival Views of Postcommunist Market Society” (paper presented at Cornell University, 5 October 1998) and Grzegorz Ekiert and Jan Kubik, “Patterns of Postcommunist Transitions in Eastern Europe” (paper presented at the Council for European Studies, Baltimore, 1 March 1998).

4 See especially Greskovits, “Rival Views”.

5 On the Russian case, see, for example, M. Steven Fish, “The Predicament of Russian Liberalism: Evidence from the December 1995 Party Elections”, Europe-Asia Studies 49 (1997): 199-220; Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, “Democracy in Disarray: Central Governing Capacity in the Provinces and the Weakness of Russian Political Parties” (unpublished manuscript, Princeton University, August 1998). But by some measures, Russian party identification at least does seem to be developing. See Joshua A. Tucker and Ted Brader, “Congratulations, It’s a Party: The Birth of Mass Political Parties in Russia, 1993-1996” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, 3-6 September 1998).

6 See, for example, the results of surveys of entrepreneurs conducted by the World Bank regarding the stability and coherence of the economic environment within which they work.

7 See, for instance, Martin Krygier, “Virtuous Circles: Antipodean Reflections on Power, Institutions, and Civil Society”, East European Politics and Societies 11 (Winter 1997): 36-88; Ekiert, “Patterns of Postcommunist Transitions”; Karen Dawisha and Bruce Parrott, eds., Conflict, Cleavage, and Change in Central Asia and the Caucasus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Karen Dawisha and Bruce Parrott, eds., The Consolidation of Democracy in East-Central Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Karen Dawisha and Bruce Parrott, eds., Democratic Changes and Authoritarian Reactions in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Karen Dawisha and Bruce Parrott, eds., Politics, Power, and the Struggle for Democracy in South-East Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); David Ost, “Labor, Class, and Democracy: Shaping Political Antagonisms in Post-Communist Society”, in Markets, States, and Democracy: The Political Economy of Post-Communist Transformation, ed. Beverly Crawford (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1995), 177-203; and Karen Dawisha, “Postcommunism’s Troubled Steps toward Democracy: An Aggregate Analysis of the Twenty-Seven New States” (paper presented at the annual convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Seattle, Wash., 18 November).

8 These figures are drawn from the World Bank, World Development Report: The State in a Changing World (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 218-21, 230-31, 234-37, 242-47; Martin Raiser and Peter Sanfrey, “Statistical Review”, Economics of Transition 6:1 (1998): 258.

9 See especially Valere Gagnon, “Bosnian Federalism and the Institutionalization of Ethnic Division” (paper presented at the Workshop of Nationalism, Federalism, and Secession, Cornell University, Ithaca, 2 May 1998).

10 See Béla Greskovits, The Political Economy of Protest and Patience (Budapest: Central European University Press, 1998).

11 See The World Bank, World Development Report, 234-

12 These figures were calculated from the World Bank, World Development Report, 214-15. For a discussion of the difficulties of estimating economic performance in the postsocialist context, see Kasper Bartholdy, “Old and New Problems in the Estimation of National Accounts in Transitional Economies”, Economics of Transition 5:1 (1997): 131—46.

13 See the World Bank, World Development Report, 222—23. For example, while the average Gini coefficient for all those countries outside the postsocialist region that fall in the lower middle income category is 45.2, the postsocialist countries that are in that category, such as Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, and Slovakia, register Gini coefficients of 34.4, 30.8, 32.7, 33.6, 21.6, 27.2, and 19.5. The contrast is even more glaring for the upper middle income countries of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia. While their Gini coefficients are, respectively, 26.6, 27.0, and 28.2, the remaining countries in this category average a Gini coefficient of 55.4.

14 World Bank, World Development Report, 5, 37. More specifically, the Commonwealth of Independent States led in unpredictability of changes in policies, tied with the Middle East and Subsaharan Africa in unstable government, tied with Latin America with respect to insecurity of property, and led all the other regions in the unreliability of the judiciary and levels of corruption. One example of the “state problem” in the former Soviet Union is Ukraine, where both decision-making and policy implementation are sabotaged by a political structure that is unusually complex and that allows for remarkable overlap in administrative jurisdictions (see World Bank, World Development Report, chart on 85). For an insightful discussion of the Russian state and its failure to provide a stable and transparent economic environment, see Kathryn Hendley, “Legal Development in Post-Soviet Russia”, Post-Soviet Affairs 13 (July-September 1997): 228-51.

15 There has also been a dramatic decline in inflation. While in 1992, the average rate of inflation in East-Central Europe and the Baltic states was 199.2 and 13,525 in the former Soviet Union (minus the Baltic states), the comparable figures for 1997 were 10 and 13.1, respectively. See Raiser and Sanfrey, “Statistical Review”, 252.

16 For evidence on these points, also see Grzegorz Kolodko, “Equity Issues in Policymaking in Transition Economies” (paper presented at the conference on Economic Policy and Equity, Washington, D.C., 8-9 June 1998).

17 Of course, the recent downturn of the Russian economy suggests some care when making these generalizations. However, several other countries in this table also show significant problems in the past few years—most obviously, Albania and Bulgaria.

18 For instance, it has been argued that the Russian experience is unusual from the perspective of theories of democratization. See Richard Anderson, Jr., “The Russian Anomaly and the Theory of Democracy” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, , 3-6 September 1998). For a somewhat different perspective, see Philip Roeder, “The Triumph of Authoritarianism in Post-Soviet Regimes” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, 3-6 September 1998).

19 To this list can be added one other way in which the Russian experience has been distinctive: the alarming statistics on declining male life expectancy. While about one-half of the countries in the postsocialist region have registered a small decline in male life expectancy, the Russian decline is, even by that sad standard, unusually large. See Peter Murrell, “How Far Has the Transition Progressed?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 10:2 (Spring 1996): 38, table 3; and Timothy Heleniak, “Dramatic Population Trends in Countries of the FSU”, Transition 6 (September/October): 1-

20 Russia incurred costs, of course, from introducing economic reform later in the transitional process. In particular, because dominant interests in the socialist era had the opportunity to redefine their economic and political portfolios in anticipation of reform, their interests shaped the course of the reform while contributing in the process to both unusually high levels of corruption and an unusually prolonged period of economic recession. On this argument see, for example, Dawisha, “Postcommunism’s Troubled Steps”, 21.

21 M. Steven Fish, “The Determinents of Economic Reform in the Post-Communist World”, East European Politics and Societies 12 (Winter 1998): 31-78. For a similar observation, absent the statistical support, see Valerie Bunce, “The Sequencing of Political and Economic Reforms”, in East-Central European Economies in Transi tion, eds. John Hardt and Richard Kaufman (Washington, D.C.: Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, 1994), 49-63.

22 For example, as Steve Fish has noted, ninety-six percent of individuals that owned or worked in small, private businesses in Russia supported Yeltsin in the presidential run-off in 1996. Fish, “The Determinents”, 67.

23 Here, I am referring, for example, to the Croatian Democratic Union (or HDZ). There, we might explain the decision to reform as in effect a continuation of the policies of the past—in a distant sense, the particular character of Yugoslav self-management, and in a more proximate sense, the Ante Markovic reforms. See, for example, Vojmir Franicevic, “Privatization in Croatia: Developments and Issues” (paper presented at the annual convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Seattle, Wash., 20-23 November 1997). When taken more broadly, this argument reminds us that we need to be careful about imputing causality when we observe that a particular outcome in time “2” is preceded by an event in time “1”.

24 Denise V. Powers and James H. Cox, “Echoes from the Past: The Relationship between Satisfaction with Economic Reforms and Voting Behavior in Poland”, American Political Science Review 91 (September 1997): 617-634

25 It has been argued that the same problem exists in the Latin American context, where import substitution has produced few groups with vested interests in economic liberalization. The puzzle then becomes one of explaining the right-turn in economics. However, there is one recent argument that suggests that there were in fact built-in sectoral supports for economic liberalization. See Hector Schamis, “Distributional Coalitions and the Politics of Economic Reform in Latin America”, World Politics 51 (January 1999): 236-268.

26 See, for example, John Walton and David Seddon, Free Markets and Food Riots: The Politics of Global Adjustment (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1994

27 See, for instance, the public opinion data cited by David Ost, “Labor, Class and Democracy: Shaping Political Antagonisms in Post-Communist Society”, in Markets, States, and Democracy: The Political Economy of Post-Socialist Transformation, ed. Beverly Crawford (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Publishers, 1995): 177-203.

28 It has been commonplace in studies of the collapse of regimes and states in the region to presume that nationalism describes the political agenda of minorities and not majorities, and that nationalist movements describe what happens when people mobilize to carve out autonomy or leave the state and not when they engage in similar behavior, but directed at regimes or the Soviet bloc. In my view, this is wrong-minded, since national liberation was as much the project of, say, Poland, as it was of, say, Lithuania during the time of regime, state, and bloc unraveling. See Bunce, Subversive Institutions

29 See Ost, “Labor, Class, and Democracy”; Grzegorz Kolodko and D. Mario Nuti, “The Polish Alternative: Old Myths, Hard Facts, and New Strategies in the Successful Transformation of the Political Economy” UNU/WIDER Project (UNU World Institute for Development Economics: Helsinki, 1997).

30 The usual argument, of course, is the development of civil society. I have avoided this terminology for two reasons. One is that civil society means different things to different analysts (particularly if we include the ways this term came to be used in East Central Europe during the socialist era). The other is that a focus on civil society makes it hard to explain those cases, such as Czechoslovakia, where the regime’s response to popular protest had been a repressive one. However, if we use large-scale protest as an indicator, these problems are reduced. Moreover, by speaking of regimes- in-waiting, the multiplication of regimes, and the like, we place the events of 1989 in the appropriate family of revolutionary processes. See Valerie Bunce, “The Revolutionary Character of 1989-1990”, East European Politics and Societies (forthcoming 1999).

31 As Adam Przeworski once argued when analyzing the rise of Solidarity in Poland, regimes are in trouble once people begin to imagine alternatives. See “The Man of Iron and the Men of Power in Poland”, PS (Political Science) 15 (Winter 1982): 18-31

32 Vesna Pusic, for example, has made a persuasive argument that a major problem in the Balkans has been the sequencing between the deregulation of the communist party’s monopoly and the formation of a viable opposition. See Vesna Pusic, “Mediteranski model na zalasku autoritarnih drzava”, Erasmus 29 (January 1997): 2¬18.

33 One study that recognizes the duality of the socialist past in this respect is Stephen Crowley, Hot Coal, Cold Steel: Russian and Ukrainian Workers from the End of the Soviet Union to the Postcommunist Transformation (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997).

34 For a sampling, see Robert Dahl, Polyarchy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971); Adam Przeworski, Democracy and the Market (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); and Philippe C. Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, “What Democracy Is...and Is Not”, Journal of Democracy 5 (1997), 1-27

35 See Przeworski, Democracy and the Market; Dahl, Polyarchy; Valerie Bunce, “Stalinism and the Management of Uncertainty”, in The Transition to Democracy in Hungary, ed. György Szoboszlai (Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1991), 46-70; Valerie Bunce, “Elementy neopredelennosti v perekhodnyi period”, Politichestkie issledovaniia 1 (1993): 44-55

36 As defined in detail by Freedom House. See “The Comparative Survey of Freedom”, Freedom Review 28:1 (1997).

37 See Philip G. Roeder, “The Triumph of Authoritarianism in Post-Soviet Regimes” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, 3-6 September 1998), 7.

38 Murrell, “How Far Has the Transition Progressed?” 33.

39 This contrast reflects, most obviously, the degree to which the revolution that ended communist party hegemony was both liberal and full-scale. However, there is another historical factor that considerably predates even socialism; that is, whether these areas were influenced by Roman law or not. Where they were, the legal-administrative tradition is such as to recognize the possibility of a law-based state. See, for example, Jenő Szűcs, “The Three Historical Regions of Europe: An Outline”, Acta Historica: Revue de L ‘Académic des Sciences de Hongrie 29: (1983): 2-4, 131-84. Also see Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London: New Left Books, 1974

40 Here, I am referring to those arguments regarding the impact of economic development on democratization and the greater difficulties that heterogeneous national set tings—or settings where the national and the state questions have yet to be resolved—have in creating stable and durable democratic orders. See, for instance, Martin Lipset et al., “Are Transitions Transitory? Two Types of Political Change in Eastern Europe since 1989”, East European Politics and Societies 11 (Winter 1997): 1-35. It is interesting to note that, while it is true that the three “quick” democracies in the region that recently have become decidedly less democratic (Albania, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan), it is also true that some of the richest democracies in the region have also backtracked in recent years (Croatia and Slovakia). Thus, there is some question whether economic development has so much impact on democratic sustainability, as argued in Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi, “Modernization: Facts and Theories”, World Politics 49 (January 1997): 155-183

41 See, for example, Fish, “The Determinents”; Alfred Stepan and Cindy Skach, “Constitutional Frameworks and Democratic Consolidation”, World Politics 46 (October 1993): 1-22; Timothy Colton, “Super-Presidentialism and Russia’s Backwards State”, Post-Soviet Affairs 11 (April-June 1995): 144-48; Gerald Easter, “Preference for Presidentialism: Postcommunist Regime Change in Russia and the NIS”, World Politics 49 (January 1997): 184-211; Valerie Bunce, “Presidents and the Transition in Eastern Europe”, in Presidential Institutions and Democratic Politics, ed. Kurt Von Mettenheim (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997): 161-176. As both Gerald Easter and I have argued, however, institutional design may not be the culprit so much as the politics—or the relative strength of the former communists versus the opposition forces—behind the adoption of parliamentary versus presidential government. Moreover, as Steve Fish has argued, what may really matter is presidential interpretation of presidential power in new democracies. See M. Steven Fish, “Reversal and Erosion of Democracy in the Postcommunist World” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, 3-6 September 1998).

42 See M. Steven Fish, “Democratization’s Prerequisites”, Post-Soviet Affairs 14:3 (1998): 212-47; Bunce, “Sequencing of Political and Economic Reforms”.

43 See, for example, Thomas M. Callaghy, “Political Passions and Economic Interests”, in Hemmed In: Responses to Africa’s Economic Decline, eds. Thomas Callaghy and John Ravenhill (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993): 463-519; Henry Bi¬enen and Jeffrey Herbst, “The Relationship between Political and Economic Reform in Africa”, Comparative Politics 29 (October 1996): 23-42; Robert Kaufman, “Liberalization and Democratization in South America: Perspectives from the 1970s”, in Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Comparative Perspectives, eds. Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986): 85-107; Jose Maria Maravall, “Politics and Policy: Economic Reforms in Southern Europe”, in Economic Reforms in New Democracies: A Social Democratic Approach, eds. Luiz Carlos Bresser Pereira, Jose Maria Maravall, and Adam Przeworski (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993): 77-131; Stephan Haggard and Robert Kaufman, The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996); Guillermo O’Donnell and Philippe C. Schmitter, “Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies”, in Transitions from Authoritarian Rule, eds. Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986); Stephan Haggard and Robert R. Kaufman, “The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions”, Comparative Politics 29:3 (April 1997): 263-83

44 Ekiert, “Patterns of Postcommunist Transitions”.

45 The losers were demobilized because a quick transition unsettled interests; because of the conflict between values, which were liberal, and interests, which were counter to the transitional project; and because people were caught in a tension between pastoriented interests, which were known but logically outmoded, and future-looking interests, which were unknown, but, given the pace of change, likely to be crucial. See Valerie Bunce and Maria Csanadi, “Uncertainty in the Transition: Postcommunism in Hungary”, East European Politics and Societies 7 (Spring 1993): 240-

46 Here, I am drawing on the terminology used by Martin Krygier, “Virtuous Circles”. The metaphor can be extended to include political stability as well. Thus, while democratization and the transition to capitalism imply state reduction, they also, when accompanying each other, could be said to strengthen the state as well, through the creation of new, serviceable, and increasingly effective institutions. On this point, see Hector Schamis, “Re-forming the State” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1994).

47 See Ekiert, “Patterns of Postcommunist Transition”.

48 See, for example, Philippe C. Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, “The Conceptual Travels of Transitologists and Consolidologists: How Far to the East Should They Go?” Slavic Review 53 (Spring 1994): 173-85; Valerie Bunce, “Should Transitologists be Grounded?” Slavic Review 54 (Spring 1995): 111-27; Valerie Bunce, “Differences in Democratization in the East and South”, Post-Soviet Affairs (Fall 1998).

49 See especially Haggard and Kaufman, “The Political Economy”; Terry Lynn Karl, “Dilemmas of Democratization in Latin America”, Comparative Politics 23 (October 1990): 1-22.

50 Jenő Szűcs, “The Three Historical Regions”.

Table des illustrations

Titre Table 8.1 Economic Development and Economic Growth
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/1878/img-1.jpg
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Titre Table 8.2 Economic Reform and Income Distribution
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/1878/img-2.jpg
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Titre Table 8.3 Annual Growth of Real GDP
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/1878/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 133k
Titre Table 8.4 Economic Reform and Economic Performance
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/1878/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 189k
Titre Table 8.5 Freedom Rating
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/1878/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 183k

Auteur

Valerie Bunce is professor of government at Cornell University.

© Central European University Press, 2000

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540