Geographic Diffusion and the Transformation of the Postcommunist World
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 June 2011
Since the collapse of communism the states of postcommunist Europe and Asia have defined for themselves, and have had defined for them, two primary tasks: the construction of viable market economies and the establishment of working institutions of representative democracy. The variation in political and economic outcomes in the postcommunist space makes it, without question, the most diverse “region” in the world. What explains the variation? All of the big winners of postcommunism share the trait of being geographically close to the former border of the noncommunist world. Even controlling for cultural differences, historical legacies, and paths of extrication, the spatial effect remains consistent and strong across the universe of postcommunist cases. This suggests the spatially dependent nature of the diffusion of norms, resources, and institutions that are necessary to the construction of political democracies and market economies in the postcommunist era. The authors develop and adduce evidence for the spatial dependence hypothesis, test it against rival hypotheses, and illustrate the relationships at work through three theoretically important case studies.
- Research Article
- Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University 2000
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16 The measure of property rights is based on the following criteria: freedom from government influence over the judicial system, commercial code defining contracts, sanctioning of foreign arbitration
17 One alternative to this coding would simply be to substitute “distance from Brussels” as the independent variable. This choice is justifiable on conceptual grounds, since joining the EU and NATO remain important goals for most postcommunist states. Substituting Brussels does not alter the statistical results substantively. Jeffrey Sachs has recently turned to a distance variable in his explanation of post-communist outcomes. Sachs, “Geography and Economic Transition” (Manuscript, Harvard University, Center for International Development, November 1997); idem, “Eastern Europe Reforms: Why the Outcomes Differed So Sharply,” Boston Globe, September 19,1999.
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20 Kitschelt's bureaucratic rectitude scores are measured for a single year, rendering a time-series model irrelevant.
21 Even if the coding of Croatia is changed to reflect recent political developments, the relationship between distance and outcomes is significantly diluted by Belarus's and Mongolia's outlier status.
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39 The logic of EU enlargement, one based mostly on a standard of geographical contiguity and proximity, is a topic that remains mostly unexplored, due principally to the cryptopolitical nature of most discussions of the matter among policymakers. Such an explanation, of course, represents a departure from a purely structuralist approach to diffusion, in that EU and NATO decisions to admit particular countries is itself an element of spatial context, and these decisions were influenced by a whole range of considerations, not only strategic but also cultural, of where EU members consider Europe's boundaries properly to lie and who should be a member of “Europe.” If culture is to reenter the picture in our spatial diffusion analysis, we suspect that this is the proper place for it.
40 Of course, some countries in this group have restructured their polities and economies more than others. Hungary and Poland, for example, have arguably restructured more than the Czech Republic and Slovenia. In fact, an alternative construction of this figure as a scatter plot could have shown the gradations of variation in location and policy. We have chosen the two-by-two for clarity of presentation.
41 Between 1989 and 1998 Hungary received the largest share of FDI by far in the formerly communist world. In second and third place came Poland and the Czech Republic. Coolidge, Jacqueline, “The Art of Attracting Foreign Direct Investment in Transition Economies,” Transition 10, no. 5 (1999), 5Google Scholar.
42 Jacoby, Wade, “Priest and Penitent: The European Union as a Force in the Domestic Politics of Eastern Europe,” East European Constitutional Review 8, no. 1 (1999), 62–67Google Scholar. In March 1998 the EU formalized what was already widely known, that there would be two tiers of accession candidates. The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, and Slovenia are in the first group for accession, and Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania are in the second group. Since then, EU officials have alternated between an admit-each-when-it-is-ready and an admit-them-in-groups approach.
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57 “Slovak NGOs had their natural partners abroad, and they exchanged skills, technical advice, and moral encouragement with them”; Butora, Meseznikov, and Butorova (fn. 54), 19.
58 Fish (fn. 53), 50. Fish maintains that “the very birth and persistence of Meciarism show that geography is not destiny” but concedes that location may well have mattered in the longer run.
59 In an attempt to take advantage of an opposition that was fragmented into a number of competing parties, he did change the electoral rules just before the 1998 elections so that it would have been impossible for the opposition to win had they not coalesced into a single party.
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61 As Butora, Meseznikov, and Butorova (fn. 54) note in their account of the 1998 election: “The West's open emphasis on the need for democratization was of great importance in shaping public opinion. Research data repeatedly showed that a substantial segment of the population considered the criticism from abroad to be justified and saw democratization as a prerequisite for Slovakia's integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. The global democratic community had shown its power.”
62 Having come to power in 1998, the new liberal coalition found the treasury almost empty, depleted by years of fiscal profligacy and political corruption. Confronting this legacy required fiscal austerity measures, which led to tensions within the coalition and renewed support for the populists. On Meciar's economic legacy, see Juzyca, Euen, Jakoby, Marek, and Pazitny, Peter, “The Economy of the Slovak Republic,” in Meseznikov, Grigorij, Ivantysyn, Michal, and Nicholson, Tom, eds., Slovakia 1998–1999: A Global Report on the State of Society (Bratislava: Institute for Public Affairs, 1999)Google Scholar.
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70 Ibid. In 1998, for example, Uzbekistan's president Karimov criticized Kyrgyzstan's dreams of Westernizing its economy. “Kyrgyzstan,” Karimov admonished the Kyrygz leadership, “is tied more closely to the IMF, which is your ‘Daddy’ and supervises everything.” “O druzhbe, bez kotoroi ne prozhit',” Slovo Kyrgyzstana, December 2,1998, 2, cited in Huskey.
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