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Russian and east European politics

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The fall of the Berlin wall.
  3. Influence of the background environment.
  4. The international context as the background factor.
  5. The electoral system and the democratic transition.
  6. The civil society.
  7. Conclusion.

Full democratization does not necessarily follow regime change. Hybrid or ?grey democracies' have also emerged after 1989. Choose two countries from the former Soviet bloc, one from the countries recently admitted to the European Union and one such as Ukraine, Belarus, or Moldova and evaluate the factors that have most affected the process of transition in both cases. Seventeen years after the fall of Berlin's wall, the countries that used to be under the rule of Soviet Union are trying to achieve their democratic transitions. This transition is not only a simple democratic transition but rather a multidimensional and complicated process characterized by the term ?triple transition' . In fact, these countries must implement changes in different levels of politics: not only do they have to build a consensus on the national identity but they also had to make important constitutional choices and to revolution their economy from a collectivized system towards market economies. Some countries, mainly in the Eastern Europe, managed to begin the transition and entered the European Union in 2004 whereas other did not really succeed in achieving the step of a substantive democracy. It can be interesting to focus on two countries that are at a different stage of the democratic transition and to analyse what shaped these various paths.

[...] Authoritarian tendencies of former Soviet Union countries can lead to emphasize the perverse effects of presidential regime such as a lack of checks and balances and lead to a ?delegative democracy'[4]. Both countries started with a presidential system but Poland balanced the repartition of power after Walesa's abuses. Electoral system is the second important rule of the game that shapes the democratic transition. This choice has an impact on the stability and the formation of a coherent party system. Indeed, it is argued that a proportional system can prevent party system from stability and polarization whereas the majoritarian system avoids it but does not let a chance to small party. [...]

[...] A lack of skills as far as market economy is concerned and a strong anti intellectualism in both countries did not help the democratic transition. For instance, students were seen as fascists in the Romanian post communist state[5]. Finally, the civil society that stands for the domestical environment will be examined as an important factor in the democratic transition of both countries. The nature and degree of vivacity of the civil society is a major factor to assess a democratic transition. [...]

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