Whither Eastern Europe
November 25, 1996
For a short time it appeared that candidates sympathetic to communism were achieving some political successes in elections in formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe. But recent elections in Russia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania have produced a pattern of rejection of ex-communists of all stripes and the political comeback of anti-communist reformers, analysts conclude.
- Only a few months ago, neo-communists and ex-communists were in power in Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.
- Now, most of the region's voters have rejected the forces associated with the old order and anti-communists are again gaining the upper hand.
- Voters have been disillusioned, observers say, by the communists' extreme state interventionist policies which resulted in high inflation and economic free-fall.
- Another factor is public resentment of rampant corruption under the ex-communists.
- A final reason for the rejection of the communists is that Eastern Europeans have tasted freedom and don't want to give it up.
If current trends continue, and extend to Poland and Hungary next year, the 1996-97 era might mark the end of the post-communist period in eastern Europe and the beginning of an era of democratic stability based on markets, the rule of law and democracy.
Source: Adrian Karatnycky (Freedom House), "Eastern Europe Rejects Communism -- Again," Wall Street Journal, November 25, 1996.
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