Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Bulgaria's Special Path. (Other Nations)

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Bulgaria's Special Path. (Other Nations)

Article excerpt

"Bulgaria's Royal Elections" by Zoltan Barany, in Journal of Democracy (Apr. 2002), 1101 15th St., N.W., Ste. 800, Washington, D.C. 20005.

Although Bulgaria remained a hardline communist state almost until the end, its ready embrace of parliamentary democracy and its relative tranquility since make it unique among the post communist Balkan states. It also stands out for a less admirable reason: its long resistance to fundamental economic reforms.

"Bulgaria's basic difficulty over the last decade," writes Barany, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, "has been a problem not of too little democracy but of ineffective democracy: One freely elected government after another has let the economy slide because ministers feared the political consequences of pushing through necessary but exceedingly unpopular economic policies."

"The first false start came in 1990," after the communist regime fell, with an assist from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in "a sort of polite palace coup." The Communists changed nominally into socialists, proclaimed their devotion to pluralism and the rule of law, and won a landslide victory in free elections that June. But the Bulgarian Socialist Party government failed to deliver on its promise of a gradual transition to a market economy. …

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