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5 The Politics of Lustration Systems I was [a member of the Communist Party], of course. But first, from an ideological point of view, I was never a Communist. In Poland I’ve seen very few Communists, especially since the 1970’s. I met a lot of technocrats, opportunists, reformers, liberals. —Aleksander Kwaśniewski1 Who is actually a communist? The one who was at some time in the communist party? All sorts of people surely joined it; just during the past decades seven million people went through its ranks [in Czechoslovakia]. There were obviously not many worshipping and enthusiastic communists or genuine servants of the [former] regime, yet at the time [of transition] it was impossible to separate ones from others by a wave of a magic stick. It had to be a long and difficult process, especially when we wanted to be not only just but also practical. —Václav Havel, Prosı́m stručně2 The implementation of lustration systems was inevitably affected by the political context in which these systems were embedded. However, once the implementation of lustration systems began, the systems in turn started affecting the political landscape. For many scholars, lustration systems originate in political scandals and create new political scandals. This chapter concurs, and it proposes a hypothesis of virtual cycles according to which the implementation of lustration systems is affected by the perceptions of PAGE 131 ................. 18039$ $CH5 06-09-11 09:18:28 PS 132 Chapter 5 former adversaries that these very systems shape. Pursuant to our theorization in Chapter 2, the exclusive system fosters a rigid view of former adversaries , which increases demands for the exclusive system. Alternative systems foster a flexible view that allows the possibility of decreasing demand for lustrations. This chapter explores these hypotheses in the political contexts in which these systems were embedded. The Lustration Cycles Political realists tend to see transitional law and justice as a function of politics.3 Personnel systems are no exceptions, given their propensity to be used, or misused, for political purposes. An exclusive system may be viewed as a means to redistribute political influence in transitional administration; an inclusive system as a means to shame political opponents; and a reconciliatory system as a means to demonstrate the dishonesty of political rivals. Indeed, a number of political leaders in Central Europe have been accused of using lustrations in order to strengthen their grip on power and to discredit their political opponents.4 Others may have had an interest in shelving or circumventing lustration systems in order to avoid disclosing their own pasts or the pasts of their political allies. Reflecting on this process, Cynthia Horne and Margaret Levi conceptualize ‘‘a lustration cycle’’ to explain why lustrations damage the credibility of government: ‘‘politicians have an incentive to use lustration against their opposition as a means of discrediting their opponents. Once this is done, the opposition, when it obtains power, retaliates.’’5 The propensity of lustrations to create political scandals and the abuse of lustrations for political purposes have led Csilla Kiss to consider the entire process a failure.6 Indeed, if we were guided only by the results of common population surveys, the implementation of lustrations in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland would be considered a failure. In our survey on the effects of lustration systems conducted in these three countries in 2007, we asked respondents to assess the objectives of the three lustration systems: personnel discontinuity, transparency, and confessions of tainted officials.7 The mean score for perceptions of personnel changes in the Czech Republic, which implemented an exclusive system (at 1.26 on the scale ranging from 0 to 4), is almost identical to that of Poland (at 1.28), which pursued a reconciliatory system (Figure 5.1). The level of transparency in Hungary was the lowest among the three countries in spite of the exposures-based PAGE 132 ................. 18039$ $CH5 06-09-11 09:18:28 PS Politics 133 2 1.5 1 0.5 Czech Republic Hungary Poland Personnel change Transparency Confessions 0 Figure 5.1. Personnel change, transparency, and confessions in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in 2007. The figure presents the mean scores for questions about the major objectives of the three lustration systems. The wording of the survey questions was as follows: (1) personnel change: ‘‘Most of those who in the past evidently informed the secret police about their fellow citizens have left the state apparatus’’; (2) transparency: ‘‘There is enough available information to...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780812205763
Related ISBN
9780812243314
MARC Record
OCLC
793012603
Pages
328
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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