The New Elite in Post-Communist Eastern Europe

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Christopher Vanderpool et al. | Go to book overview

1
From Nomenklatura to New Elite

Olga Krishtanovskaia and Stephen White

Revolutions, according to Vilfredo Pareto, are above all a matter of elite transformation. The revolution in Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s brought on changes in government and a shift toward pluralist and democratic politics throughout the region. Today, many of these changes look less decisive. Former communist parties have returned topower in Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, and Bulgaria. In Romania, there has been a shift in leadership but less clearly a change of political re gime. Former communists maintained their positions in Serbia and in Slovakia, and there has been a transformation of the nomenklatura in much of former Soviet Central Asia. In Russia, the Communist Party left office but was revived in the beginning of 1993. It fared well at the polls in the December election of that year and was by far the largest party in the Duma elections that took place in December, 1995. The Russian public, for their part, remained committed to the concept of a USSR. They rated their new political system lower than the one they had experienced in the Soviet years. Furthermore, they believed the Communists were still in power.1

Views differed as to the extent to which communists or former communists were, in fact, still in power throughout the Central and Eastern European countries. There was relatively little direct continuity in the Czech Republic, where the Communist Party quickly became a marginal force, and only a limited degree of continuity of leading personnel in Poland. In Russia, some argued that there was "relatively little overlap between the Gorbachev and Yeltsin political elites." Others pointed to the very high degree of continuity at local levels in the early post-Soviet period, and went on to emphasize the continuities in post-Communist government more generally. As a commentator for

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