Democratic Transitions in Romania

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Transitions to Democracy: An Analysis of Romania in Linz and Stepan's "Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation"

Linz and Stepan's chapter on Romania in their book, "Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation" is a complete and well done analysis of the transition of the Romanian government after the death of Ceausescu and the effects of Ceausescu's sultanistic reign on that transition. Throughout the chapter, Linz and Stepan attempt to answer the question they postulate in their opening paragraphs, "what explains such exceptionalism [or why has Romania had such difficulty in its transition to democracy]?" (pg. 344). What follows is both interesting and insightful.

In order to discover the answer to their question, Linz and Stepan look into the history of the Ceausescu regime, analyze the effects his regime had and then look at the history of the revolution and post-revolutionary periods (pg. 245-6). In addition to all this, Linz and Stepan look to the work of two prominent anthropologists who have studied the use of myth and countermyth in the Romanian revolution (pg. 346). In comparative politics, one would classify Linz and Stepan's research on Romania as a mix between institutional and cultural methods.

While some may be confused at the use of the term "sultanistic" especially when applied to a communist bloc dictator, Linz and Stepan clarify the term and its appropriate usage to explain the rule if a highly personalistic ruler, whose regime is treated as their "personal domain", especially applicable to the Ceausescu regime (pg. 346-347, 356). Furthermore, Linz and Stepan explain other key concepts that are necessary to be understood in order to understand the difficult transition in Romania from the Ceausescu government, such as the importance of organized opposition groups with public heads, opposition publications and the absence of the "pacted transition" (pg. 349-357).

What Linz and Stepan discover in their attempt to...
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