1989 and Its Aftermath

Valerie Bunce and Sharon L. Wolchik

in Socialism Vanquished, Socialism Challenged

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199895977
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199980116 | DOI:
1989 and Its Aftermath

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This chapter compares two waves of transitions from authoritarianism to democracy in postcommunist Europe and Eurasia. The first wave took place in 1989, when the communist party's monopoly disintegrated throughout the region. The second wave, the color revolutions, took place between 1998 and 2005. There are a number of similarities between the two waves. For example, both waves exhibit characteristics typical of diffusion dynamics, such as the rapid spread of similar changes among a group of neighboring states, and both were fueled by the willingness and ability of publics to mobilize in large numbers in order to remove authoritarian leaders from office. However, while the first wave was primarily a “street” affair and targeted fully authoritarian regimes, the second one focused on elections and took place in competitive authoritarian regimes. Moreover, 1989 was more the product of demonstration effects, while the color revolutions reflected the well-planned efforts of a transnational network that brought together local oppositions, members of the international democracy assistance community, and participants in earlier successful electoral confrontations in the region.

Keywords: diffusion; color revolutions; competitive authoritarianism; elections; demonstration effects; transnational networks

Chapter.  9201 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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