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Political Determinants of Economic Reforms in Former Communist Countries


The results of the first decade of economic transition are very uneven and are distributed according to a sub-regional pattern. The group of "leading reformers" consists of middle-income countries of democratic capitalism of the Central Europe and Baltic region (CEB). The second group of less advanced reformers includes mainly lower- and lower-middle-income countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) where both capitalism and democracy are still immature and sometimes heavily distorted.

This differentiation can be explained mainly by the adopted transition strategies and political factors determining them. Also the perspective of the European integration has played an important leveraging role. Fast reforms allowed for shortening the period of a temporary system vacuum, breaking down the inertia of the old system, and exploiting maximally the initial political window of opportunity.

The ability of individual countries to follow the effective (i.e. fast) reform strategy was determined by the scale of the initial political changes and further developments in the sphere of institutional and political reform. Generally, a very strong correlation between the progress in political and economic reforms could be observed.

Looking at the role of specific institutional solutions one must underline the advantage of the parliamentary or parliamentary-presidential regime over the presidential or presidential-parliamentary system. The former helped to build the transparent and relatively stable system of the political parties while the latter contributed to political fragmentation, irresponsible legislature and oligarchic capitalism.