From Party-state to Political Market-place in Eastern Europe: the Collapse of the Power Monopoly

  • Michael Waller


An entire postwar generation has grown up with a notion of a Europe divided into an East and a West, with the Berlin Wall serving since 1961 as a graphic symbol of the division. That notion of Eastern Europe, born in the crisis of the onset of the cold war in 1947–8, came to an end in 1989 with the fall of the regimes in the region that had been maintained for almost half a century by a guarantee of Soviet support. With them fell a particular configuration of state power, economic and political. That structure of power, together with the thinking that provided its ideological underpinnings, has frequently been called monopolistic. In this chapter the appropriateness of that metaphor will be demonstrated by a brief examination of the roots of the political system that the Eastern European states have shared for the past fifty years, and by a more detailed account of its demise or, in some cases, fundamental transformation.


Communist Party Power Monopoly Green Party Party Formation Evangelical Church 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Quoted in Dennison Rusinow, The Yugoslav Experiment, 1948–74 (London: Hurst, 1977), p. 139.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See Stephen White and Alex Pravda (eds), Ideology and Soviet Politics (London: Macmillan, 1988); andGoogle Scholar
  3. Stephen White, Political Culture and Soviet Politics (London: Macmillan, 1979).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    This result of the information monopoly is well, if somewhat adventurously, treated in Michael E. Urban and John McClure, ‘The folklore of state socialism: semiotics and the study of the Soviet state’, Soviet Studies, 35 (October 1983) 471–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    For two major works on the Prague Spring see H. Gordon Skilling, Czechoslovakia’s Interrupted Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976) andGoogle Scholar
  6. Galia Golan, The Czechoslovak Reform Movement (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971); and for this aspect of the Solidarity episode seeGoogle Scholar
  7. Neil Ascherson, The Polish August (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981) andGoogle Scholar
  8. Denis MacShane, Solidarity: Poland’s Independent Trade Union (Nottingham: Spokesman Books, 1981).Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    H. Gordon Skilling, ‘Independent Currents in Czechoslovakia’, Problems of Communism, 34, 1 (1985); Christiane Lemke, ‘New Issues in the Politics of the German Democratic Republic: A Question of Political Culture?’, The Journal of Communist Studies, 2 (1986) 341–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 7.
    Bill Lomax, ‘1989 in Hungary: Year of Change’, Journal of Communist Studies, 5 (1989) 346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 9.
    Pedro Ramet, ‘Church and Peace in East Germany’, Problems of Communism, 33 (1984) 45–7; Margaret Manale, ‘L’église dans le socialisme: le cas de la République démocratique allemande’, Etudes, 363, 6 (1985).Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Vaclav Havel, ‘Anatomie d’une réticence’, Lettre Internationale, 7 (1985) 18.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Heinz Timmermann, ‘The Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Reassessment of International Social-Democracy: Dimensions and Trends’, The Journal of Communist Studies, 5 (1989) 173–84. Bill Lomax (op. cit. p. 346) records Oleg Bogomolov’s recommendation to the Hungarian HSWP that it might adopt a Swedish or Austrian style of social-democracy.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Judith Pataki, ‘Hungarian Electoral Law Complicates Elections’, Report on Eastern Europe (Radio Free Europe), 1, 10 (9 March 1990) 33; Michael Shafir, ‘The Electoral Law’, ibid, 1, 18 (4 May 1990) 28.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Michael Waller, ‘The Ecology Issue in Eastern Europe: Protest and Movements’, The Journal of Communist Studies, 6 (1989) 303–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Moran and Maurice Wright 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Waller

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations