Communist Legacies and Politics in Eastern Europe (POL119)


This course offers a review and discussion of the most up-to-date academic literature on the topics of post-communist transformations in Eastern Europe.  The semester is structured into roughly three parts, covering respectively:

  1. historical antecedents of post-communist transformations, path dependence and historical legacies affecting political behavior in Eastern Europe;
  2. party strategies during the early years transformation, the lustration process, the strategic choice of political institutions, and particularly the logic behind the evolution of communist successor parties (CSP) in the region;
  3. political and economic outcomes of transformational processes: both at the level of an individual and a society, as well as considerations of several salient political phenomena in the context of post-communist politics.

The course does not rely on heavy usage of mathematics. Familiarity with methods of game theory and statistical data analysis, however, will come in handy.


The course is designed to expand students' understanding of political logic of communist transformations in Eastern Europe, as well as its empirical outcomes and unintended consequences.  Having completed the course students will not only have a knowledge of what happened in the recent past, but, more importantly, they will understand the causal reasons behind some of the most controversial developments in current political and economic life of Eastern European countries.

Learning outcomes

  • Explain political factors of the key scenarios of post-communist transformations in Eastern Europe.
  • Explain economic factors of the key scenarios of post-communist transformations in Eastern Europe.
  • Discuss the methods of and the political logic behind the lustration processes in Eastern Europe.
  • List key political institutions, and explain their political and economic ramifications.
  • Discuss the political logic behind the emergence of specific political institutions in Eastern Europe.
  • Discuss the economic and political consequences of Eastern Europe’s post-communist transformation scenarios.
  • Use theoretical and empirical knowledge, acquired during the course to analyze key contemporary political and economic events in Eastern Europe.