A comparative study of lustration in Central and Eastern Europe
Maierean, Andreea Raluca
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The dissertation examines transitional justice mechanisms implemented in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe. The question of how to deal with the legacies of communist repression has been an important source of political divisions in the region. The post-communist states of Central and Eastern Europe had an array of choices to consider when addressing demands for retrospective justice: from criminal prosecution of important officials, to restitution of property, or declassifying of secret files for public inspection. The two most common paths taken in the region have consisted of lustration laws and the decisions surrounding public access to secret police files. Lustration laws involve the disqualification of certain categories of former communist officials and secret police collaborators from public positions under the new regime. The dissertation explores differences in lustration laws and access to secret files across four cases that represent variation along a spectrum of outcomes: the Czech Republic having the strongest type of lustration, Poland and Hungary having a weaker form, and Romania lacking institutionalized lustration. The extant literature has focused on instances where such laws have been instituted, but has little to say about cases where it failed. The dissertation pays special attention to the case of Romania, with the goal of explaining its failure to enact lustration in spite of repeated attempts. The analysis is organized in two main sections. The first evaluates the existing patterns of lustration in the region. The second offers an in-depth analysis of the understudied case of Romania with the intent of filling the vacant niche in the existing literature. Primary sources examined include the proposed projects of lustration laws, the final drafts of laws, parliamentary debates and media reports on the issue. The dissertation concludes that differences in lustration patterns can be fully explained only by simultaneously considering the impact of several factors: the pervasiveness of security apparatus during the last phase of communist rule, the type of regime change, and the extent to which political actors embraced the lustration agenda.