Free Essay: Quality of Democratic Transition in Central and Eastern European Countries

Published: 2022-05-06
Free Essay: Quality of Democratic Transition in Central and Eastern European Countries
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Democracy Europe
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1330 words
12 min read

Democracy refers to a system of government that is inclusive of all the people of a state through elected representatives ("What Is Democracy?" P16). Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as a government of the people, for the people and by the people a clear indication that it is dependent on the people. Therefore, it is important to note that a democracy is a system of government that makes use of four elements. These elements include a political system for electing and replacing a government through the use of a free and fair election in set intervals, protection of human rights, upholding of the rule of law and procedures to all citizens and the active participation of citizens in the civic and political lives. In the recent years, many years have changed from their ancient forms of government to adopt the democratic one but their dream has not been fully realized due to challenges that are special to their own nations.

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Countries in central and Eastern Europe such as the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, and Hungary have been adopting the democratic system of government. However, the new democracies have not been democratic enough as there are many challenges that have been faced in these nations in their course of adopting the democratic government systems. Many of the first generations of elected leaders in these new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe nations have gone a step ahead to govern as quasi-dictators which have resulted to uprisings that have been experienced in these nations. This has happened because when the opposition leaders who win election end up becoming autocrats thus overpowering the young democracies whose institutions are weak and cannot restrict these powerful leaders who are not interested in opposition as well as negotiation ("Turkey and Central and Eastern European Countries in Transition" P 123). Another factor that has made these democracies not to be effective is the middle class whom upon being convinced that they are protecting democracies have unseated those unpopular leaders from their position undemocratically. Therefore, the use of these undemocratic means such as military coups to oust democratically elected leaders have continued to undermine democracy in these nations of central and Eastern Europe.

The major historical developments in the countries of the Central and Eastern Europe such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic are easily visible. The people of this nations did not originate within the region as they were formed at the continent's periphery thus creating a permanent disadvantage politically, socially and also economically as compared to the other European nations ("Turkey and Central and Eastern European Countries in Transition" P113). Also, the nations ended up taking external models of administration such as the Hapsburg Empire, something that has been a problem that has politicized every aspect of these nations. Between the two world wars, only the Czech Republic had a Western-style system of democracy as compared to the deformed versions of parliamentarians in countries like Poland and Hungary.

There have been recent political changes that have taken place in most of these CEE countries that have included a revolution in Hungary in 1956 as well as a number of reformatory movements in Poland in 1981 and those in Prague in 1980. It is as a result of these uprisings and revolution that it became important for the introductions of a new political system that took the rule of law into consideration called the parliamentary democracy. As a result, external conditions for a democratic change matured and the foreign policy of Soviet favored international milieu that made it possible for the CEE countries to detach themselves from the Soviet zone as well as socialism that had been a problem for long and thus the authoritarian regimes began to fall. These regime changes in Poland and Hungary were dominated by negotiations between the opportunist forces and the communist governments, while those of the Czech Republic and Bulgaria were characterized by non-violent mass mobilization with the Romanian one being violent. The only similarity between all these transitions by the CEE nations was that their governments were not willing to start the political reforms until it was too late.

The democratic developments in these CEE countries can be used to monitor the state and development of democracy in the nations. Democracy indicators can be ideal for analyzing these developments and among those democracy indicators that can be used to monitor the state of democracy in these nations include the Freedom House democracy indicators that are the election and party democracy, NGO participation, citizen's views on citizenship and own opportunities of influence as well as the attitudes towards political institutions and actors (Saiani, P12). Freedom house democracy indicator as at 2017 classifies the democracy of Hungary as a semi-consolidated one with a democracy score of 3.54 out of the possible 7 score. Also, the freedom in world status in Hungary is classified as free, with press freedom status partly free and the Net freedom status being classified as free (Johnston, P18). The national in transit ratings and averaged score for Hungary in 2017 included a national democratic governance of 4.25, local democratic governance at 3.00, electoral process at 3.00, corruption at 4.50, civil society at 2.75 and independent media at 4.25 thus giving the country a democracy average score of 3.54 whereby the ratings are on a scale of 1 to 7 with 1 representing the highest score and 7 representing the lowest (Saiani P15). These high ratings of the democratic system of Hungary were as a result of the changes in the social and political relations over the years.

On the other hand, Poland had a democracy score of 2.57 out of 7 as per the Freedom house in 2017 with a regime classification of a consolidated democracy. Poland is classified as free in terms of freedom in the world status and free in press freedom status. The nations in transit ratings and averaged scores as at 2017 for Poland were at a national democratic governance of 3.25, electoral process at 1.50, civil society at 1.75, judicial framework and independence at 3.25, independent media at 3.00, local democratic governance at 1.75 and corruption at 3.50 thus giving the country a democracy score at 2.57 (Johnston, P16). The high rating of Poland democratically is as a result of the third portion of Poland that brought about a lot of conflict and in the process of solving them, the country was able to learn from its mistakes and uphold high levels of democracy. The adoption of parliamentarism as a result of the revolution heat led to both the citizens and the emerging elites to reach for a noncommunist regime is among the factors that the endurance of democratic institutions in Hungary depend on. This factor led to the conduction of a free democratic election by the people of Hungary ("Institutional Choice and Democratic Survival in New Democracies", P 56). On the other hand, Poland has a strong judicial system that has made it possible for the constitutional checks and balances of the government thus helping in the development of democracy in the nation that has given it a high democratic rating in the world.

However, factors such as executive influence to the parliament in Hungary and the political influence of the constitutional bodies that have been put in place in Poland may impend the working of the democratic institutions that the democracy of these nations depend on. Personally, I think that the democratic levels in these two nations are likely to improve as a result of the increased adherence to the various democratic institutions and the constitution. This is because the success of every nation depends on its ability to follow its constitution and therefore, the adherence to their constitutional bodies will in a great way influence democratic nations in the future.

Works Cited

"Institutional Choice and Democratic Survival in New Democracies." Institutions And The Fate Of Democracy, pp. 1-25.

Johnston, Michael. "Statistical indicators for country clusters." Syndromes of Corruption, pp. 225-227.

Saiani, Paolo P. "Democracy and Public Knowledge: An Issue for Social Indicators." Quality of life in Italy, 2012, pp. 225-242.

"Turkey and Central and Eastern European Countries in Transition." 2001.

"What Is Democracy?" 2018.

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