Public enthusiasm for democracy and capitalism is waning in many former communist countries

THE fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 marked the beginning of the end of communism in Europe and, for many, the dawn of a new, democratic era. Two decades later, however, enthusiasm for democracy and capitalism east of the former Iron Curtain appears to have waned considerably. In a survey of nine countries in 1991, large majorities of citizens in each said they approved of the move from a single-party state to a multi-party political system. But a new poll shows support has now fallen drastically, especially in poorer countries such as Ukraine and Lithuania. And in every country, fewer people now approve of the change to a free-market economy. The belief that the changes have benefited business and political elites far more than ordinary people is widespread.

The poorer countries listed have been continually looted by criminal cartels since the fall of communism so its no wonder the people are feeling ripped off. The big worry, for mine, is that the ultra right will get a foothold there.



  1. brm says:

    I predict another cycle of them not having Levi jeans, then overthrowing their rulers so that they can get some Levi jeans.

  2. JoaoPT says:

    (continued from #1brm)
    …and then having to decide and think for their own heads, and then have the corporations melt their brains into mindless consumer/zombies, and then pining for some one to tell them what to do and then not having Levi jeans again.

  3. Proud Alien says:

    It’s all a matter of unreasonable expectations.

  4. Dickmnixon says:

    As an ex-pat who has been living in Slovakia for the last two years, I see this in daily life. My opinion is the reason for the decline in appeal of capitalism here is because of a few reasons not stated in the article.

    The first is even though Communism is long gone, a lot of the same processes in some ways are still the same here. The hoops you have to jump through to start a business or build a home or do anything that involves the government at any level will make you crazy. Every form requires a rubber stamp from some bureaucrat, who if they don’t like you or are having a bad day will ask you to have the form re-done to reverse the location of two words that mean nothing either way and then you will get the stamp. The stamp is power, no one wants to give up what little power they hold.

    The second is the current economic crisis is something they did not understand could happen, as with most people in the world they had been told everything goes up, everyone makes money and they believed it.

    These are just my opinions, I could be wrong.

  5. valcs says:

    I am a guy from Slovakia, living between Slovakia and Hungary. I have to disagree with #4.

    1. The process of democratization made the “rubber stamp” less significant. The things are getting better every day. The average central European experienced that the bureaucracy slowly disappeared. Once we joined EU the things got even faster. I am not saying we do not have bureaucracy, but things got 1000x better.

    2. We had economical crisis for the past 20 years. Slovakia was doing ok only for the past 4 years. Before that we had the same or even worse numbers then now. People noticed but not that much as western Europe

    3. So why some people want back the old regime?
    Well most of the people had stable jobs,did not have to work too much, could “get stuff” (steal) based on friends, status etc.The reality of working hard, very hard for living is new. you achieve much more, but you have to work. During communism if you shut up, participate in the system, relaxed at work you did ok. Thanx god people wishing back the old regime are only minority.

    4 Hungary is a special case.We are whiners.We will wine about everything and then jump from the bridge. Check the statistics, we are world leaders in suicides. 🙂

  6. bobbo, words have a context says:

    Can you buy a clue?

    “The poorer countries listed have been continually looted by criminal cartels since the fall of communism so its no wonder the people are feeling ripped off. //// And the same is happening in the USA for the same reasons. About once a year, I see the USA lose its No1 position on some measure.

    “The big worry, for mine, is that the ultra right will get a foothold there.” //// Exactly and your model for that is as stated==the USA. Mal distribution of wealth. I’d like to see the top 50 economies evaluated for that. USA could be “rising” to the number one position on that measurement.

  7. LibertyLover says:

    #7, Extremists are always dangerous

    I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

    Barry Goldwater

    If you are mostly free, you are a little bit of a slave.

  8. Tim says:

    Is there a country that practices Capitalism? I believe Hong Kong may be the closest this world has. We certainly have not experienced
    it here in the US for a very long time.

  9. LDA says:

    #9 LibertyLover

    Reasonable point. But if you are not prepared to go to war for your ideas you must convince others by being flexible.

  10. LibertyLover says:

    #11, Go to war, yes. But only when attacked first and then it should be all out.

    AFA being flexible, if you compromise with evil, evil wins.

  11. MikeN says:

    Is that all the countries that went away from communism? Or is that a selective poll?
    Even then we have only 4 countries that are significantly worse, with Russia having much lower numbers than I would expect. Perhaps Russkies are regretting Putin’s return to the past?

    The poster is right that the ‘establishment’ was more interested in helping out bankers and keeping out competition than having the countries do well.

  12. Glass Half Full says:

    #12 AFA being flexible, if you compromise with evil, evil wins.

    Sounds good, the logical problem is that people use that idea with anything they CHOOSE to label as evil. Kook Aid is evil. Black people are evil. Italians are evil. Gays are evil. Marijuana is evil.

    Yes ACTUAL evil (person who rapes and murders 2 dozen children) shouldn’t be ‘reasoned with’. But that’s not 99% of what’s labeled evil. That sort of thing is used for politics and personal gain (re: Jews in Nazi Germany).

    So be careful and peppy sounded catch phrases which are manipulated by politicians to make lazy thinkers do what they want.

  13. Glass Half Full says:

    Studies show that 61.3% of statistics are flawed or made up. 😉

  14. LibertyLover says:

    #15, You are correct.

    But you have to understand where this comes from. If you are violating someone else’s property rights or freedom, you are in the wrong.

    If you compromise just a little of your property rights or your freedom, those you compromised with win.

    Before someone can legitimately claim something is “evil” it has to be determined if it violates their property rights or freedom.

    If not, tough.

  15. Winston says:

    “It’s all a matter of unreasonable expectations.”

    Exactly! They expect true democracy and capitalism and what they get, invariably, is an oligarchy run facade of democracy and crony capitalism, just as in the US. Meet the new boss, similar to the old boss (but wearing Levis).

  16. valcs says:

    #17 i know it is true, but the good news is that this is typical for the older generation so the future is bright … one might think. the new generation is all for capitalism and democracy (or at least things they see on the “west”). The problem nowadays is the nationalism. In the summer the slovak-hungarian relations escalated close to a conflict. starting with ridiculous verbal provocations until the time when slovakia prevented the hungarian president to enter slovakia. with these “puppet theater” we hide the real problems.

  17. Breetai says:

    Two serious flaws with countries complaining about “Democracy and Capitlaisim,” The World has never seen real Capitalism, saying that we have is just lies and propaganda it’s a Corporate Oligarchy.

    Oh and Democracy is a lie too. What’s the point of the people voting when corporations just give the politicians prostitutes and drugs and get whatever they want past for their benefit.

    So basically here in a America, we’ve been lied to about what our government really stands for our entire life.

  18. gal416 says:

    Why are you worried about them? The ultraright, already has a foothold here.

  19. jealousmonk says:

    Quick thoughts…
    1. I would love to see the same poll in US and other western countries. Including how much it has changed since 1991.
    2. I imagine a significant portion of the respondents to the poll now do not even remember, or were very young under, communist rule.
    3. Because propaganda in communist countries was forced, the people there still have a natural distrust of it while here in US, because propaganda is part of “free press,” we internalize it much more easily.

  20. sargasso says:

    #25. yes.

  21. qb says:

    Oh, they’re communists! Gee whiz, I thought you told me they were fascists. It’s comforting to know that life is full of easy answers.

  22. deowll says:

    The people running these countries and our country all have the same problems: incompetence, greed, partisanship, a complete lack of ethics, etc…

    Capitalism needs to be policed but not chopped up and deep fried. You try to pull to much out of the system and put up to many barriers it will never amount to jack. The really bad news is nothing else is going to work even a tenth as well.

    Central planning sounds great but it always fails because the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray and most plans are poorly laid to start with and the crooks take over.

  23. LibertyLover says:

    #30, Central planning sounds great but it always fails because the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray and most plans are poorly laid to start with and the crooks take over.

    Not to mention it is impossible to know everything that is going on in the market, thus any decision you make will be based on faulty information.

    To think otherwise is hubris.

  24. Mr. Fusion says:

    #31, Loser,

    Just another indication of the walls in your mother’s basement impinging your knowledge.

    Business Management 101
    Any manager that does not plan is doomed to fail. Any manager that doesn’t understand the importance of planning deserves to be fired, the sooner the better.

    The best analogy is the football team that runs plays against the team that just snaps the ball and hopes something opens up. Neither team knows everything the other team will do. Which team do you think would win?

    Any person that belittles, denies, or refutes the importance of planning needs someone like their mommy handling their life for them. Obviously they would be incapable of managing their own life.

  25. LibertyLover says:

    #32, Jumping threads doesn’t alleviate your responsibility to answer why you would sacrifice others to save your wife.

    When you answer that, you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in intelligent discourse with your peers.


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