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Central and eastern Europe
Shallowness of democratic
attempts in CEE
Prerequisite to communist rule in CEE
region:

Turn to authoritarian institutions prior to
WWII (with exception of Czechoslovakia),
Radicalization during nazi occupation
(“civil war” between domestic fascist and
antifascist movements),


soviet occupation in 1945 (with exception
of Yugoslavia and Albania).
Members of communist
party
1939-41
1945
1947
1950
Albania
-
-
45.000
-
Bulgaria
8.000
250.000
495.000
460.000
Romania
500
101.810
710.000
720.000
Hungary
500
227.000
660.000
829.000
Yugoslavia
12.000
-
141.000
530.812
Poland
8.000
189.000
849.000
1.360.000
500.000
1.300.000
2.300.000
Czechoslovakia 60.000
“Popular democracy”
1945-1948: postwar left-wing coalition
goverments between:
communists,
social-democrats,
small farmers representatives.
Common goals:
post-war reconstruction,
nationalization of “enemy” property
(german national minority, nazi
collaborationists) .
End of pluralism
Internal divergences:


models of industrialization (priority
to heavy industry against more
balanced programs),
modernization of agriculture.
External motives:


cold war pressure (as the terms for
obtaining US material support
according to Marshall plan in 1947),
the Soviet Union historical pattern
One-party government
beginns
since
1947-8,
after
communists experienced electoral
failures.
(with exception of Yugoslavia and
Albania where anti-german guerilla
communists
troops
monopolized
power since 1945)
Ideological legitimacy
Leninist theory:
the communist party' claim for the
guiding role in society in order to
fulfill its hystorical mission of
building communism – the common
good.
Seizure of power by
Communist party
Control of police forces, Ministries of
the Interior and Defence during 19451948 coalition governments.

Apparent revolutions: the leadership
of the communist party conducts
mass
protests
to
delegitimate
parliamentary democracy:
Romania February 1945,
Czechoslovakia February 1948)

Repression of dissense




Undermining of non communist
parties on inside (creating divisions,
claims of conspiracies against other
parties);
Absorbing of social-democratic
parties;
Taking control of social
organizations (trade unions,
workers' councils...);
Trials against single party leaders.
Political trials
The use of penal system against
political
antagonists
since
the
seizure of power:
The creation of the “enemies of the
people” judged by “people's courts”:
“traitors of the homeland”,
“counterrevolutionary saboteurs”,
“fascist collaborators”,
“western spies”.
The “purges”
3 phases:
1.1945-1946 post-war trials against nazi
collaborators;
2.1947-1949 trials against former socialdemocrats who entered the communist
party and against communist leaders
suspected of non-conformity to Soviet
Union (nationalism, titoism);
3.1952-1954 trials against jewish
communist suspected of connections
with the state of Izrael (zionism).
Double institutional
structure
Ministerial
bureacracy
National Assembly
Local Assemblies
Party
secretariat
National party
congress
Local party units
Hypothesis about
continuity
interpretative theory focusing on the
traditional aspects of the socialist
system:
it suggests that the principal aim of
the socialist government was to put
the society and the economy under
political control and thus using the
same solutions as the authoritarian
nationalist governments durnig the
1930' and the Nazis during WWII.
Andrew Janos, East Central Europe in the
Modern World: The Politics of the
Borderlands from Pre- to Postcommunism,
2002:
the more things change the more they are
the same: in spite of endemic political
change—from
Western
liberalism
to
corrupted parliamentarism, from fascism to
state socialism, and now to a fledgling new
liberalism under Western auspices—all
these political systems did not change the
region’s economic backwardness vis-à-vis
the West, the debilities of small nationhood,
and the cultural divide between the lands
of eastern and western Christianity.
Hypothesis about change
Ben Fowkes, Eastern Europe, 1945-1969:
from Stalinism to stagnation, Longman,
2000,
explores the communists attempt to
transpose a uniform economic and
social system across the region copied
from the Soviet model, describing the
special conditions they have faced in
catching up with the West both in
terms of material prosperity and in
cultural and social traditions.
Constructing Socialism
Classical pattern (following the historical
example of the first Soviet Union' 5-yearsplan):



Primacy of public property;
Heavy industry (steel, coal mines,
electrification, machinery);
The regulation of the production is
carried out by the planning ministry,
instead of the market;

Forming of collective farms.

Full employment.
Nationalization of the
economy
Since 1948: process of taking the
industry asset under state control
(as a state- or social property), in
order to develop a centrally-planned
economy.
The economical goals are determined
by the government, not by private
investors.
Level of industrialization
Industrialized states
Czechoslovakia,
German Democratic
Republic
Partially industrialized Hungary, Poland
states
Non-industrialized
states
Romania, Bulgaria,
Yugoslavia, Albania
The “take off” phase
1945 - 1970: all countries, except
Albania, developed an industrialized
economy (on average, 50% of the GDP
was coming from industry, 30% from
the tertiary and 20% from agriculture)
due to energy and raw materials
supplied by the Soviet Union at ultra
low costs.
Collectivization of the land allows the
mechanization of agriculture and the
use of fertilizers up to 62% of western
european level.
Heavy industry
Bulgaria
Czecho-
Romania
Poland
Hungary
slovakia
East
Germany
Yugoslavia
1950 43,4%
71,2%
49,6%
45%
55,4% 53,1%
25,1%
1970 57,8%
73,5%
70,9%
67,3%
55,6% 69,1%
44,3%
“Dictatorship of proletariat”
Integrating the industrial working class
into the ruling system by:
1)labour and wage policies (Yugoslavian
example: Boris Kidric political
economy of limitless welfare
spending);
2)Improving material rewards
(successfully in Czechoslovakia and
Hungary, less well in Poland, causing
political crises);
3)Social and career advancing: from blue
to white collar.
Inversion of social roles
Hungary (as example):
between 1948 and 1954
of state administrators
managers grew by 80%,
collar jobs to 227.000
collars.
the number
and factory
giving white
former blue
New social exclusion
Meanwhile, 350.000–400.000
members of former bourgeois
families had to turn to a social
status of factory workers.
Physical labor as punishment:
"providing second chances to live
right and work honestly"
“New class”
Milovan Gilas, 1957: the bureaucracy
is the new ruling class because they
differ from the rest of society for
power and privilege.
Nomenklatura:
list of top official
workplaces that could be occupied
only with the approval of the
vertices of the Communist Party –
highest class in socialist societies.
Inverted discrimination
Growth in the percentage of university
students
with
working
class
background (also because of maximum
quotas provided for students coming
from bourgeois families):
In Poland, from 7% in 1946 to 38% in
1951;
In Czechoslovakia, from 18% in 1946 to
41,5% in 1959.
In East Germany, 58% in 1959.
Social elite in 1960's
1.Former workers and peasants – 70%
of factory directors in Poland, 60%
in Hungary.
2.Former upper class – 60% of the
cultural elite in Poland.
3.Gender difference in top official
workplaces: 95% male vs. 5% female
(with female working population
growing from 54% in 1950 to 85% in
1970).
City/country
Mass transfer of population planned by
governments
into
city
industry
as
unskilled labor:
 Towns
are planned and rural-urban
migration is strictly controlled.
 The
physical extent of the cities was
controlled by greenbelt to prevent urban
sprawl. New cities are built near to
industry to develop new resources.
 Workers were housed in flats with all the
basic services they needed.
Rural population
ALBANIA
BULGARIA
ROMANIA
YUGOSLA
VIA
POLAND
CZECHO
HUNGARY
EAST
GERMANY
SLOVAKIA
1930 88%
79%
80%
78%
73%
52%
64%
29%
1960 -
62%
68%
66%
52%
43%
58%
28%
1970 66,5% 47%
59,1% 59,8% 47,7% 37,7% 51,1% 26,2%
Social infrastructures
The government wants to control:
 Size & layout of cities,
 Availability of flats,
 Public transport,
 Communcations,
 Health,
 Education
Illiterates before
communist rule
East
Czechoslovakia Hungary
Germany
Poland
Yugoslavia
Bulgaria Romani
a
Albania
1,5%
18,5
%
39%
29%
60%
3%
7%
42%
Progress in education
Average percentage of illiterate
people in 1950 in:


Poland, Czechoslovakia and
Hungary: 5,9%;
Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania,
Albania: 25%.
Number of university students in
1970:

10-15%, lowest in Hungary: 6,8%,
highest in Yugoslavia: 14,6%.
Narrowing the gap with the
West 1848-1965 (GDP)
United Kingdom
100
100
RDT
43
74
Czechoslovakia
49
74
Poland
35
51
Hungary
24
53
Romania
19
36
Yugoslavia
18
36
Bulgaria
16
45
Economic progress
GDP in constant growth until the 80's
stagnation (but some signs of slower
growth already in the 70s).
Improvements in the standard of living,
housing and health of most of the
population.
Leveling of differences between more
and less developed regions (example:
the relative income of
Slovakia
amounted to 60% of the Czech part in
1948, and 87% in 1988).
Political turning points
1) 1948: suppression of workers'
councils and the end of the
independence of socialist parties;
2) 1956: repression of the Hungarian
revolution and of its “third way” to
socialism;
3) 1968: military intervention against the
Czechoslovak experiment of “socialism
with a human face” and the exhaustion
of economic reforms (except in
Hungary and Yugoslavia)
1980' economic crisis
Due to governmental control of the
economy, wages and consumption
possibilities depend on the political
rather than economical success.
Thus, planned economies are unable
to:

stimulate greater work commitment;

allocate capital efficiently;

stimulate innovation.
Causes and consequences
Decrease in growth and productivity
rate, rising energy costs (1973-4 and
1979 oil crisis) and – most of all –
foreign debt
Leading to
drastic reduction in the level of
investment and
progressive reduction in real
consumption and in living standard.
Need for economic reforms
Governments who perceived the need to
open to market economy due to arrest
of GDP growth since 1970':
East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland
and Hungary;
Governments who were still enjoying a
period of industrial take-off and had
not perceived the crisis until 1980':
Bulgaria, Romania, Albania.
Actual openings to market
Experiments
regarding
(mainly)
liberalization of corporate profits
openings to small private economy:



the
and
Hungary: continued throughout 1970' and
1980', leading to the birth of a class of
small entrepreneurs;
Yugoslavia: hit by major debt crisis during
1980' despite being opened to market
economy since 1965;
Poland: successive waves of political and
economic crises (Solidarnosc) disrupt the
reforms.
Political reforms
Governments tending to be more tolerant
towards political dissent in:
Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia.
Governments
repression:
investing
in
political
East Germany, Czechoslovakia.
Governments without major
coming from civil society:
Bulgaria, Romania, Albania.
opposition
Loss of legitimacy
Political discredit of communist elites
due to the parties' centralization of
power (and of responsibilities) –
turns into an ideological crisis –
inability of the ruling party to fulfill
its “historical mission” to lead the
people toward a “better future”.
Symbolic significance of the 1986
Chernobyl ecological disaster
Gorbačev effect
As a convinced
defender of the
leading role of
party”, promotes
reforms in order to
for the party by:
communist and
dogma of “the
the communist
uncompromising
regain legitimacy
1)
promoting popular participation
(thus filling the gap between state
and society);
2) incrementing living standard by
reforming the economic system.
Changes in Soviet Union
Set of
1987:
reforms implemented since
1) glasnost (transparency), major
possibility
to
express
political
dissent and to obtain informations;
2)
perestrojka
(reconstruction),
experimenting with secret and multicandidate electoral competition for
a minor number of state and party
assemblies
Gorbačevs' Impact on CEE
- December 1986, poses the right of
each country to find its own “way” to
socialism;
- June 1988, affirms that soviet control
over CEE is violating the principle of
communist
internationalism
(abandoning
the
principle
of
interventionism used against Hungary
in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968);
- 1989/90, gradual retreat of the Red
Army from CEE.
Domino effect
Negotiated transition to
Poland, Hungary,
pluralist democracy by
Bulgaria, Albania
successive concessions
Government breakdown
German Democratic
due to peaceful mass
Republic, Czechoslovakia
demonstration
Government breakdown
Romania
due to armed insurgency
State breakdown due to
armed insurgency
Yugoslavia
1) Poland
Weakest government of the bloc, the
only facing institutionalized
opposition groups:
- Solidarnosc trade union;
- Catholic church (lead by a polish
pope - Wojtila)
Major political crisis (martial law
imposed in 1981 by general
Jaruzelski) and economic collapse.
Round table talks
Poland 1988:
Growing number of strikes due to
lowering of real wages ( -20% since
1980), decrease of GDP ( -13% since
1978), growing foreign debt (39
billion $).
Workers' increasing demands turning
from economical (major wages
compensating inflation) to political
(legalizing Solidarnosc, freedom for
political prisoners).
First free elections
Round table talks between Jaruzelski
government and Solidarnosc: free
elections for 35% of parliament
seats and the whole of the senat.
Complete electoral victory on June
1989 – all free seats for opposition
candidates, leading to the first
coalition government with a majority
of Solidarnosc ministers.
2) Hungary
Compromising policy favored during
1960' by post 1956 repression
communist leader Jànos Kàdàr, in
order to consolidate the regime.
During 1980' cooperation between
small oppositional groups (pacifism,
ecology) and the communist party
reformist wing:
- multi-candidates (communists vs.
independents) elections since 1985;
Economic liberalizations
Birth of a new class of entrepreneurs
due to:
-
major liberalizations for private
farmers and small enterprise since
1980,
- continuous eliminations of
imposed to free market,
-
tolerance
economy
toward
black
limits
market
End of one-party
government
- 1987: defecting communists and
opposition groups form the Hungarian
Democratic Forum – an “umbrella”
organization with Christian Democratic
and nationalistic tendencies.
- 1988: in February reform wing
communists take control of the party;
in September they arrange with the
HDF free elections and in October the
party dissolves and turns into a Social
Democratic Party.
3) East Germany
Despite severe censorship, the citizens
have access to information from westgerman television showing:
- much better living standard in the
West;
- Gorbačevs' reforms in Soviet Union,
hidden to east-german citizens by the
Erich Honeckers' government.
Cold war propaganda
Penetration of
West German TV
reception in East
Germany. Areas
with no
reception (black)
were jokingly
referred to as
"Valley of the
Clueless".
GDR ecological disaster
Due to use of brown coal, GDR had the
highest emissions of sulfur dioxide and
the highest dust exposure of all European
states, causing air pollution mortality in
men (from bronchitis, emphysema and
asthma) more than twice the European
average.
GDR
Only 1% of all lakes and 3% of rivers were
considered in 1989 as intact. 52% of all
forest areas were considered damaged.
More than 40% of the waste was not
disposed of properly. For hazardous waste,
there
were
no
high-temperature
incinerators.
Political ecology
On the grounds that the environmental
data were used by the class enemy to
discredit Socialism, since 1970 the
pollution data were classified as
"Confidential" and from the early
1980s as "Secret" and thus withheld
from the public.
Criticism of the environmental policy
was suppressed by secret police.
In the late 80s there were about 60
environmental
groups
merging
in
autumn 1989 the Green party.
Berlin wall
- Built on 13th August 1961;
Walter Ulbrichts' government claimed
that the wall was erected to protect
GDR population from fascist
elements.
conspiring against the socialist "will
of the people".
In practice, the Wall served to prevent
the massive emigration and
defection from east to west Berlin.
1961 - 1989
Around 5,000 people
successfully
defected to West
Berlin.
136 to 245 people
were killed in
attempts to
overcome the
167.8 km long and
heavily guarded
border posts.
New Forum
- founded in September 1989 as an
umbrella organization of ecological
and religious (protestant Church)
movements;
- intended to promote round table
talks, but Erich Honeckers'
government refuses compromises;
- in response, since October New
Forum organizes mass protests in
major cities.
November 9th, 1989
Gunter Schabowski, Minister of
Propoganda, read out a note at a
press conference announcing that
the border would be opened for
"Private trips abroad”.
Thousands immediately gathered
by the checkpoints, demanding
passage. Due to confusion in official
line, the border guards were forced
to let them pass.
4) Czechoslovakia
- December 1987, substitution of the
old hard-wing communist leadership
(in power since 1968 repression) by
the young reformers;
- August 1988, mass protest in Prague
to commemorate 1968' Prague
spring.
- Several protests ending with
November 17 1989 protest
repressed brutally by police.
“Velvet Revolution”
- November 1989, Vaclav Havel gives
birth to Civic Forum, as response to
police repression;
- November 1989, National Assembly
abolishes art. 4 of the constitution,
about “the guiding role of the
communist party”;
- December 1989, new coalition
government: 8 communist and 12
civic forum ministers.
Dissidents and reformers
- December 29 1989, National
Assembly elects unanimously former
dissident Vaclav Havel as the new
President of the Republic.
- Alexander Dubcek (reformer
communist leader of 1968' Prague
spring) is elected as chairman of the
Assembly.
5) Bulgaria
1989, various mass protests:
- Turkish ethnic minority,
- ecological group Ekoglasnost,
- independent trade union,
- religious groups (Christian Orthodox
Church).
November 10, 1989 – reformist
communist leader Petar Mladenov
takes power by a “Palace
Revolution”.
Free elections
- January 1990, Mladenov transforms
the communist into socialist party
and promises multi-party democracy
and “market economy and social
care”.
- November 1990, trade union
pressure imposes a coalition
government
- October 1991, free elections and
former communists definitive retreat
from power.
6) Romania
- During 1980' Nicolae Ceausescu
Stalinist-type government turns to
“sultanistic” degenerations.
- Indifferent to Perestrojka due to
overall secret police repression
(Securitate) and to foreign policy
independent from Gorabačevs'
Soviet Union.
Army insurgence
- December 17, 1989 Securitate units
intervene against Hungarian ethnic
minority protesters, killing 17
people.
- December 21, 1989 an organized
state celebration in Bucarest is
interrupted by protests, following
armed combats between Securitate
on one side and citizens and
defecting army troops on other side.
Pseudo-revolution?
- Leader of the National Salvation
Front (on power since December 22
1989) is Ion Iliescu, a former
Ceausescus' collaborator removed
from power;
- December 25 1989, Ceausescu and
his wife are shot without trial;
- NSF serves to keep in power the old
communist elite, now using
nationalistic demagogy.
7) Albania
- international isolation secures the
government against the wave of
Perestrojka until
- December 1990 – mass protests due
to profound poverty forces Ramiz
Alija government to legalize the
opposition parties.
- March 1992 – electoral victory of the
Democratic party and first change
of government.
8) Yugoslavia
From 1960 to 1980, annual gross
domestic product (GDP) growth
averaged 6.1%, medical care was
free, literacy was 91%.
The oil crisis and Western trade
barriers forces Yugoslavia to take
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
loans, amounting by 1981 to 20
billion $. As a condition the IMF
demanded
the
"market
liberalization" of Yugoslavia.
Internal differences
General "unproductiveness of the
South" and a decade of IMF imposed
frugality,
resulted in growing frustration in rich
Slovenia and Croatia public opinion
against:
- the “ruling class”, seen as “serbian”;
- poor southern republics seen as
“economic black holes”.
Federal crisis
- constant reforms failed to resolve
key
national
problems,
and
undermined institutional stability.
- 1974 constitution turned the state
de facto in a loose confederacy and
established a system of highly
ineffective 1-year-long presidencies,
by rotating the eight leaders of the
federal units, resulting in a power
vacuum for most of the 1980'.
End of one-party system
- as result, the Yugoslav League of
Communists dissolved during its 14°
Congress in January 1990, due to
Slovenia and Croatia communist
leaderships refusal to accept the
hegemonic attempt of the Serbian
communists.
This, along with external pressure,
forced the individual republics to
organize their multi-party elections
in 1990.
Federal unit
Date of
elections
New government
Slovenia
April 8 1990
DEMOS – wright-wing
nationalistic, christiandemocrat coalition
Croatia
April 22 1990
Croatian Democratic
Community – wright-wing
nationalistic party
Macedonia
November 11 1990 Macedonian National Unity –
wright-wing nationalistic
party
Bosnia and
Herzegovina
November 18 1990 Coalition of muslim, serb and
croat nationalistic party
Serbia
December 9 1990
Serb socialist party (former
communists)