Democratization of Eastern Europe
Introduction to EE as a Unit of Study

Based on Roskin, Michael G.  The Rebirth of East Europe.  4th Ed.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Prentice-Hall. 

“The rebirth of East Europe was inevitable but unpredictable”

Taking predictability first

Not really unpredictable

Just not predicted by most political scientists

Or area specialists


Study of E Europe had been purview of “sovietologists” and area specialists


Assumed stability, impermeability of Soviet regimes to change


Why inevitable?



Note on the assumed “direction” of the change

Several times, Roskin writes things like

“East Europe would rejoin Europe and move quickly up to West European levels of prosperity and democracy” (1)


Emblematic of “modernization theory” which assumes that Western model is the only one

The only destination for developing countries


Should we expect E Europe to be a replica of the W? 


This theoretical lens, or Western-centric view of things causes him to see E Europe as the West must have been in the 1950s


True, that one often feels as if one had traveled back in time when one is in E Europe


But is this really accurate?



Is it the case that E Europe is simply lagging behind the West, backward?


Note:  he says that it was not only Communism that created this lag; that E Europe was a backward place before it was imposed on the region



This creates possibility for an alternative view


That E Europe is not just lagging, always has been, but will catch up to the inevitable model of the West


But that perhaps E Europe is qualitatively, i.e., fundamentally



different from W


Something Other


So we have two hypothesis that will be with us through out the course


1.  That there is only One Europe

one European model, history, set of political institutions


from which E Europe was forcibly isolated


kept apart


this view would see Communism as an aberration, a deviation from W tradition, political civilization




2.  That there are and always have been two Europes


one Western, liberal, open, modern


one Eastern, illiberal, closed/suspect, backward




What makes E Europe a region, appropriate for study as a unit?



What makes it hang together?


1.  History of weak states


2. Empire

lasted longer

part of Austro-Hungarian (Hapsburg), Ottoman (Turks), Prussian (NE German), or Russian empires


3.  Later to form into Nation-States


4.   Nationalism

national identity primary

age of nationalism came later to region than to W Europe


5.  All except Czechoslovakia flunked their first experiments with democracy

most during interwar period

populismà fascism, dictatorship


6.  Crushed in WWII

endured Nazi occupation and Red Army “liberation”


7. Stalinization/E European satellite system

(except for Yugoslavia)

puppet states to Soviet Union

secret police


8.  no legitimacy with population

stayed in power by threat of force by USSR

WEAK regimes, not strong ones

9. poor performing economies

increased popular discontent


10. struggle between hardliners


younger reformers


11.  Gorbachev


12. overwhelming victories by opposition (except Romania,Bulgaria)


13.  split, splintering of opposition

reinvention of communists as “social democrats”


14.  right-left alteration of power





Chpt. 1 Caught between Empires

Poor geography

      Military invasion, trade


Poor leadership (and aggressive neighbors)



Roskin defines by language (discuss other indices)


Slavic groups


N - Rus

W – Poles, Czechs, Slovaks

polish dress    czech dress    slovak dress
S – Slovenes, Croats, Serbs

SE Bulgarian – mixed with Asian group Bulgars


Others –




Religion - Historically

Catholic – Poles, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Slovaks, W Ukrainians, Slovenes, Croats


Protestant – Estonians, Latvians, Prussians, Czechs


Eastern Rite Christianity – Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Serbs, Belorussians


Atheism – Czechs, Russians, some in all


*Weak States

Western Europe


Increased trade (better geography for this and exploration)

Exploration, conquest, colonialism

Leads to great wealth


Monarchies shift to absolutism

Force erosion of local loyalties

Loyalty to crown, “nation”


Growth of middle class

Creates political pressure for democratization



E Europe, on other hand,

Historically, weak states

Parts of shifting empires


State weakness continues through communism



Are strong states likely to emerge?

What conditions today enhance state power in EE?

What conditions mitigate against it?



Four Empires


ottoman empire

SE Europe – Balkans, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, laid siege to Vienna twice

Politically, loosely confederated

Political autonomy in milyet system

Religious toleration


Habsburg, later Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy

austro-hungarian empire

Austria, Hungary, Bohemia (Czech), Slovakia, Croatia, s. Poland, W. Ukraine

Didn’t assimilate groups so national loyalties persisted

Allowed some cultural autonomy, language rights, education

Even some political participation, self-governance in Galicia (curia system)




NE Germany, N and NW Poland, E Prussia (Russia today)

Germanization, Poles disposed of land, not allowed education in Polish, underground education, cultural continuity through Church


Tsarist Russian

Russian empire

Russification, no cultural/linguistic rights

Little economic/social modernization

Feudal economic, political, social structures


Begins in East Europe

Serbs assassinate Austrian (Habsburg) Archduke Ferdinand

Austrians invade; Russians back the Serbs


Versailles, Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points

3 pertain to EE

Autonomy for Austro-Hungarian peoples

Independence of Balkan states, Romania, Bulgaria

Reestablishment of Polish state