The End of the Cold War and Transitions to Democracy

The fall of the Soviet Union brought the end of the Cold War and the transition to democracy in Eastern Europe. The end of the Cold War, in essence, brought the collapse of traditional studies of communist system of government as popularized by Karl Marx (Marxism). The European concept of Euro Communism however is totally different from liberal democracy the former as an offshoot of socialism while the latter of representative democracy.

In essence, the end of cold war is said to be the start of democratization process in Eastern European countries like Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The transition towards democracy offered encouraging political models for former Soviet-controlled countries. As a result, an air of revolution rocked Eastern Europe, starting in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, East Germany and Bulgaria. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, former Communist countries adopted democratic models of government.

In Poland, the transition to democracy highlighted the basic assumptions of the Polish revolution. This peaceful character can be traced to the Solidarity movement popularized by Lech Walesa and supported by Catholic Church hierarchy. Thus, it goes without saying that the successful democratization of Poland after 1989 is based on the determination of the Polish people to reform the countrys political structure. In a sense, the overwhelming international petition for the Solidarity movement was due perhaps to the struggle for democracy and human rights together with its active defense of social justice and workers rights. The Catholic Church supported the Solidarity because of its positive impact on the attitude of Polish society in promoting a peaceful transition from Communism to democracy.
In Hungary, the transition to democracy only occurred after the Cold War. According to Crepaz and Steiner (2010), this shift to democratic form of government and free enterprise economy depended solely on the nature of the military controlled under civilian authority. This transition to a Western-style parliamentary democracy was the initial and the smoothest abandonment of Stalinist communism. Moreover, the full transition to democracy finally attained its perfection after the first free parliamentary election was held in May 1990, where the Democratic Forum (MDF) won over Free Democrats (SZDSZ). Jozsef Antall was elected as the new Prime Minister.

On the 1st of July 1991,  Warsaw Pact was officially vanished at a meeting in Prague (in Czechoslovakia) when President Gorbachev of Soviet Union and President Bush of United States make a strategic partnership which decisively ended the Cold War. As the Soviets rapidly withdrew its forces from Eastern Europe, the leftover of the 1989 Disruption began to reemerge in many parts of the country. This led supporters to call for the election of candidates who opposed the Communist government. These movements were further strengthened by the rapid disintegration of the Soviet economy, making Moscow (capital of Soviet Union) the scapegoat of economic suicide. A coup attempted to replace Gorbachev.

This attempt failed because of the opposition of the people. President Boris Yeltsin rallied the people to support the defunct Gorbachev. The coup eventually subsided and Gorbachev returned to power. Months later, Gorbachev announced the disintegration of the Soviet Union, marking the end of the Cold War. The Soviet Union disbanded into fifteen constituent parts. This marked the end of the largest and most influential communist state (Soviet Union), leaving China to be the foremost successor state of Marxist ideology.

These political revolutions which rocked Eastern Europe included the Spring movement in Czechoslovakia or the 1968 Revolution, the Fall of Communism in 1989, Orange Revolution in 2004 and many others. The foremost objective of these revolutions was to overthrow the real socialist regimes. The social developments which followed these political revolutions are termed as transition to democracy and market economy. These developments maybe considered as types of social revolutions, although differing in theory, focus, and application. This new theoretical thinking developed as a result of new kinds of power relationships. Crepaz and Steiner (2010) argued that the end of Cold War between the West and Eastern Block is part of a general political revolution which resolved the issues of power, legitimacy, and theory appropriateness. This thinking also opened new social reconstruction programs which emphasized political empowerment and market autonomy.

Democratization therefore is a transition from totalitarian forms of power relations to representative forms of government. During the Cold War, this was a notion that most people fought for, including the Freedom House. Various patterns of democratization are used to strengthen political and economic structures. The objective was to attain political flexibility and economic growth. The failure of the Communist state to achieve this objective highlighted a major theoretical flaw. Economic development was slower in Communist countries than in democratic countries.

It can be argued that the expansion of economic reforms had mixed effects on democratization. In many ways, it is said that some forms of democratic governments are general constraints to the expansion of international capital markets. However, this conclusion is far from an accepted claim.


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