2014

The Dam

It says a lot about Hungary in the 1980s that the movement that represented the biggest challenge to the Communist authorities was an environmental one. In Romania, dissidents focused on a tyrant. In Poland, striking Solidarity activists protested against working conditions and in support of labor rights. And in Hungary, the rallying point of the… Continue reading The Dam

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Running Political Campaigns in Slovakia

The campaign against Vladimir Meciar in 1998 launched many young Slovaks into politics. Young people were instrumental in the 1998 elections – as election observers, media monitors, and civil society activists – that broke Meciar’s authoritarian hold over the Slovak political system. Many of those young people remained in politics, either joining political parties or… Continue reading Running Political Campaigns in Slovakia

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Addressing Nuclear Power

As part of their industrialization policies, the Communist governments of East-Central Europe built nuclear reactors to boost their energy production. Only Poland, at the time of the changes in 1989, didn’t have any nuclear reactors on line. Of the 26 reactors in the region, 24 were Soviet-designed. Although they generally weren’t the same models as… Continue reading Addressing Nuclear Power

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Ensuring Free and Fair Elections

For decades, the Communist governments of East-Central Europe held elections. And for decades, these elections produced more-or-less the same results. The Communist Party candidates – or the candidates of the parties aligned with the Party – won the elections by absurd margins. The Party in Hungary was the poorest performer in this regard. In the… Continue reading Ensuring Free and Fair Elections

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The Czech Culture of Corruption

The Czech playwright and dissident Vaclav Havel popularized the notion of “living in truth.” He was dismayed at the degree to which lies had permeated Czechoslovak society under Communism. It wasn’t only government and Party officials who lied about history, the economy, the state of human rights, the opposition Charter 77 movement, and so on.… Continue reading The Czech Culture of Corruption

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