20 Years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Transitions, State Break-Up and Democratic Politics in Central Europe and Germany
On 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall was opened, signalling the beginning
of the end of the communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. By
1990, free elections had been held in most countries in the region.
Forty – in some cases fifty – years of communism had come to an end.
However, the ‘revolutions’ of 1989 were not uniform processes: the
starting points were different, the trajectories were different – and
outside Central Europe even the outcomes of the transitions from
communism were different. The fall of communism also caused the Soviet
empire to crumble, and the Soviet Union itself fell apart in December
1991 – as did Czechoslovakia in 1993, and Yugoslavia in a gradual
process that was to last from 1991 to 2008. This book originated in a
conference held in Oslo 11–13 November 2009, arranged by the E.ON
Ruhrgas scholarship programme for political science, and commemorating
the 20th anniversary of the ‘revolutions’ in Central and Eastern Europe.
The 16 chapters take stock of developments after 1989, with special
emphasis on the causes and effects of the transitions, including the
processes of state unification and separation that followed in the wake
of the ‘revolutions’. The book is divided into four main parts: regime
transitions from communism; state unification and separation; party
system continuity and change since 1989 (in Germany, the Czech Republic,
Hungary, and Poland); and on the effects of German unification on
external and internal German relations. The geographical scope thus
varies from chapter to chapter, but the main emphasis is on Germany and
its closest Central European neighbours.
Elisabeth Bakke is Associate
Professor at Department of Political Science, University of Oslo. Ingo
Peters is Associate Professor at Department of Political and Social
Sciences, Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science, Freie Universität