East European Communities: The Struggle for Balance in Turbulent Times

By David A. Kideckel | Go to book overview

10
All Is Possible, Nothing Is Certain:
The Horizons of Transition
In a Romanian Village

Steven Sampson


Shock Without Therapy

The so-called "transition" in Eastern Europe has usually been discussed in terms of the transition to a market economy (privatization) and to Western style liberal democracy. Using these two categories, we have spent considerable effort to measure how far various Eastern European countries have come on the transition scale. By standard measures, the northern tier of Eastern Europe-- Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia-seems farther along than either the Balkans or the states of the former USSR. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are destined to benefit more from further Western inputs because they are more "on the way" to privatization and more democratic.

This paper deals with Romania, one of those countries where the normative indices of "successful" transition have not appeared. Romania was the last East European country to enter the Council of Europe. It is continually criticized from outside and by the non-government opposition for its slow progress of privatization and for political corruption. Unlike the rest of Eastern Europe (except Serbia) Romania's communists are not tying to stage a comeback; they never left. Ceau≿escu's cronies sit in the bureaucracy and in the parliament. Some of his most ardent supporters formed part of the Romanian delegation to the Council of Europe. The president has courted xenophobic nationalists and excommunists, and in 1994 they have even taken cabinet posts. Unlike the case of other East European dissidents who went from opposition to government posts,

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