Bulgaria in Transition: Politics, Economics, Society, and Culture after Communism

Bulgaria in Transition: Politics, Economics, Society, and Culture after Communism

Bulgaria in Transition: Politics, Economics, Society, and Culture after Communism

Bulgaria in Transition: Politics, Economics, Society, and Culture after Communism

Synopsis

Since the forced resignation of Todor Zhivkov in November of 1989, Bulgaria's transition to democracy has been marked by good beginnings ending in frustration or disappointment. It has avoided the violent ethnic confrontations that have characterized much of the "post-Communist" Balkans, but has also seen the development of an influential criminal sector that has blocked serious economic reform and cast a shadow over efforts to create a functioning democracy. It has developed a Balkan policy widely praised as positive and stabilizing, but has not been able to achieve movement toward integration in European structures or to gain the Western investment that is desperately needed to end a perpetual economic crisis. In Bulgaria in Transition, specialists from the United States, Western Europe, and Bulgaria examine the contours of the political, economic, social, and cultural developments facing the country since 1989. Bringing to bear a variety of disciplinary expertise, the contributors attempt to explain the causes of what is often called a "failed transition."The book is certain to be of value to students and general readers who want to learn more about the current Bulgarian scene; to those who wish to bring a genuinely comparative approach to the study of the evolution of the post-Communist countries; and to anyone who wishes to make sense of the new Balkan landscape.

Excerpt

A character in an episode of Upstairs, Downstairs once described the purpose of a luncheon party to be "to see old friends and make new ones." The invitation to edit a volume on Bulgaria since 1989 provided a similar opportunity to the editor. The community of Bulgarian specialists is not large, and it was not difficult preliminarily to identify some "old friends" as obvious candidates to cover several of the themes that I believed should be included. Most of those contacted responded positively or, if faced with commitments that precluded writing for this volume, suggested others in their place.

As the approach and the topics of the book's sections became more clearly defined, it became necessary to make "new friends." Most of those scholars who were known to me be reputation proved to be quite open to the idea of this collaborative volume.

Planning for this book began in late 1995 with assignments proposed and accepted by the middle of the following year. For most of the chapters the target for completion was mid-1997 with coverage through the presidential election due about the beginning of that year. As it happened Bulgaria's economic collapse, the fall of the Socialist government, and the decisive victory of the Union of Democratic Forces in the April 1997 elections created what appears to be, at least from close perspective, a watershed in Bulgaria's transition history.

As inevitably happens in collaborative projects, there were some delays and not all of the scholars involved met their commitments. One withdrew in time for me to prepare a substitute chapter, on the question of Macedonian ethnicity in Bulgaria. Two, however, did not pull out until the last minute, so that the subjects of the media and the effects of the transition on Bulgarian women had to be omitted. Even without these chapters, I, believe that the volume makes a significant contribution to the general literature on the transition from communism and on the developments in Bulgaria, which is all to often neglected by the press and in scholarship.

I would like to express my gratitude to Sabrina Ramet for the invitation to undertake this project, to the editors at Westview Press for their suggestions and patience, and to Liuben Boianov for helping to track down some of those in Sofia who had eluded my attempts to find them through e-mail or telephone.

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