Failure Of Democracy In Eastern Europe

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Pages: 9

Account for the “failure of democracy” in Eastern Europe (excluding the USSR) in the period 1918-1939.

According to Robert A. Dahl, there are certain criteria that a government must meet for it to be called a democracy. Democracy must provide first of all, opportunities for effective participation, where all members of an association concerned with a certain policy ‘must have equal and effective opportunities for making their views known to the other members as to what the policy should be’ (Dahl R.A.: 2000). A second criterion is equality in voting, whereby ‘every member must have an equal and effective opportunity to vote, and all votes must be counted as equal’, followed by gaining enlightened understanding, meaning that each
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The East European states once again lay between two very different and powerful forms of government – the USSR communist model in the East and the Italian fascist and German Nazi rule in the West. As newly formed states, none of the Eastern countries had a strong enough government to withstand the pressure from both sides. In all the countries wings of the communist party coexisted with models of authoritarian government. This created pressure for the whole of Eastern Europe, which was to result in the ‘failure of democracy’. The social setting in Eastern Europe gives further explanation of the ‘failure of democracy’. Ever since 1918, the East European states have been known for continuous corruption and bribing. The chain starts off in the lower state jobs and with small bribes the officials take in order to be able to provide better life conditions for their families, for which their salaries are not sufficient and goes all the way to the top echelons of state governments. ‘In Eastern Europe fortunes are made not in industry or banking but in politics’ (Seton-Watson H.: 1986, p148). Ministers appropriated national money, while inspectors were bribed to keep their eyes shut to irregularities in the factories. The industry was not well developed and served the needs of the upper classes, rather than those of the