Reclaiming Democracy: Civil Society and Electoral Change in Central and Eastern Europe
"Postcommunism, with its exaggerated emphasis on the power of the economy, politics, law enforcement, justice and the media, can be seen, to some extent, as echoing the communist period. The patience of people has been enormous, but not without limits. Fortunately, the ethos of the anti-communist revolutions of 1989 and 1990, the natural self-organization of civil society and the international context made a return to totalitarianism impossible. Sooner or later, the situation in various postcommunist countries ripened into civic protest against the new abuses of power."
Václav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic
A remarkable sequence of democratic changes has swept through Central and Eastern Europe in recent years. In Slovakia and Croatia, Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine, postcommunist politics had increasingly departed from the democratic reforms initiated after 1989. Instead, semi-authoritarian regimes had emerged that openly manipulated democratic processes and abused the human, civic and political rights of their citizens. Yet on the occasion of national elections, neo-autocrats in the five countries found themselves challenged by democratic alliances of opposition parties, civil society groups and citizens at large. These asserted a democratic choice over the future of their countries and, by way of peaceful mobilization, returned democratically elected governments to office.
Variously labeled "color revolutions," "transitions from postcommunism," or "electoral breakthroughs," and for some representing even a new "wave of democracy," the recent changes in the five countries have fascinated scholarly observers and democratic activists alike. For this reason, this book provides a cross-section of perspectives on recent democratic breakthroughs in Central and Eastern Europe. Case studies drafted by civic leaders present inside accounts of how civil society helped to assert democracy, while comparative analyses by academic experts shed light on a range of further factors that facilitated these changes, including the semi-authoritarian nature of postcommunism, economic aspects, civil society strategies and resources, and youth participation.
This book is a joint project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and Erste Foundation of Austria, and it was edited by GMF's Joerg Forbrig, Program Officer, and Pavol Demeš, Director for Central and Eastern Europe.
Table of Contents
- Václav Havel: Preface
- Joerg Forbrig and Pavol Demeš: Introduction
- Martin Bútora: OK '98: A Campaign of Slovak NGOs for Free and Fair Elections
- Sharon Fisher and Biljana Bijelic: GLAS 99: Civil Society Preparing the Ground for Post-Tudjman Croatia
- Jelica Minic and Miljenko Dereta: IZLAZ 2000: An Exit to Democracy in Serbia
- Giorgi Meladze and Giorgi Kandelaki: Enough! KMARA and the Rose Revolution in Georgia
- Vladyslav Kaskiv, Iryna Chupryna and Yevhen Zolotariov: It's Time! PORA and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine
- Vitali Silitski: Different Authoritarianisms, Distinct Patterns of Electoral Change
- Pavol Demeš and Joerg Forbrig: Civic Action and Democratic Power Shifts: On Strategies and Resources
- Valerie J. Bunce and Sharon L. Wolchik: Youth and Postcommunist Electoral Revolutions: Never Trust Anyone Over 30?
- Robin Shepherd: The Economy and Democratic Change: The Missing Link?
- Taras Kuzio: Comparative Perspectives on the Fourth Wave of Democracy
- Ivan Krastev: Where Next or What Next?
Hard copies of the book may be obtained by contacting Joerg Forbrig ([email protected]).