9780801860386 / 0801860385

Democracy and Its Alternatives: Understanding Post-Communist Societies


Publisher:The Johns Hopkins University Press



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About the book:

The collapse of Communism has created the opportunity for democracy to spread from Prague to the Baltic and Black Seas. But the alternativesdictatorship or totalitarian ruleare more in keeping with the traditions of Central Europe. And for many post-Communist societies, democracy has come to be associated with inflation, unemployment, crime, and corruption. Is it still true, then, as Winston Churchill suggested a half-century ago, that people will accept democracy with all its faultsbecause it is better than anything else?

To find out, political scientists Richard Rose, William Mishler, and Christian Haerpfer examine evidence from post-Communist societies in eastern Europe. Drawing on data from public opinion and exit polls, election results, and interviews, the authors present testable hypotheses regarding regime change, consolidation, and prospects for stabilization. The authors point out that the abrupt transition to democracy in post-Communist countries is normal; gradual evolution in the Anglo-American way is the exception to the rule.

While most recent books on democratization focus on Latin America and, to some extent, Asia, the present volume offers a unique look at the process currently under way in nine eastern European countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Belarus, and Ukraine. Despite the many problems these post-Communist societies are experiencing in making the transition to a more open and democratic polity, the authors conclude that a little democracy is better than no democracy at all.

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