The Revolutions of 1989

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Did the revolutions of 1989 fit the pattern of transition to democracy described by O'Donnell and Schmitter?

Instructions

  1. Describe the pattern of transition that O'Donnell and Schmitter believe is common in transitions from authoritarian rule. How do such transitions start? What are their preconditions? What is the usual sequence of events? How do they end, according to O'Donnell and Schmitter? When do they lead to democracy, and when do they stall or lead to a renewed authoritarianism?
  2. Describe how the various Eastern European countries overthrew communist regimes. Which transitioned quickly to democracy? Which didn't? Which cases fit the patterns described by O'Donnell and Schmitter? Which ones do not? Why or why not might this be the case?
  3. Evaluate the theory presented by O'Donnell and Schmitter in light of your discussion. Are they right to insist, for instance, that all transitions to democracy are initiated from the top? Are they right to insist that moderation always works, and radicalization only empowers the hardliners in the regime? You may wish here to contrast O'Donnell and Schmitter with alternative understandings of these revolutions.

Resources

  1. Articles and books in our bibliography tagged revolutions of 1989 are a good place to start, as well the articles tagged O'Donnell and Schmitter.


Start writing here - do not delete the instructions. Note you can use headers to organize your answer, and do not be afraid to edit other people's writing. This is a wiki! Also, you can use the Discussion page to hash out disagreements.