De‐Communization and Political Justice in Central and Eastern Europe

Carmen González‐Enríquez

in The Politics of Memory and Democratization

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780199240906
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598869 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Democratization

 De‐Communization and Political Justice in Central and Eastern Europe

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An exploration is made of the nature and scope of de-communization and political justice in Czechoslovakia (the Czech Republic, Slovakia), Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Hungary, to each of which a section of the chapter is devoted. The term ‘political justice’ is here meant to refer to proceedings held to try crimes (generally related to political repression) committed by outgoing regimes. With the exception of Albania, transitions to democracy in these countries were initiated in 1989, and in all cases, great political tensions arose from demands for the punishment of former communist authorities and those responsible for political repression. These demands formed part of a wider political and cultural process, namely the reworking of public discourse on the nature of the communist regime, and their nature and results varied considerably from country to country; for example, only two – the former Czechoslovakia and Albania – actually carried out purges that affected large numbers of people. This chapter attempts to answer to two main questions: (1) what explains the differences in the scope and nature of the policies adopted, and (2) what impact have they had on the process of democratization. The focus is on the rationality of the political actors or the role that anti-communist campaigns had in shaping political competition, rather than the moral and legal debates surrounding the issue.

Keywords: Albania; Bulgaria; case studies; Central Europe; communist authorities; crimes; Czech Republic; Czechoslovakia; de-communization; democratization; Eastern Europe; Hungary; Poland; political justice; punishment; purges; repression; Romania; Slovakia; transitional democracy; transitional policies

Chapter.  12547 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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