Features of legitimation of power in post-socialist states of eastern Europe

Аbstract: Article explores mechanisms of government power legitimation in the East Europe post-socialistic countries. Also searching of objective and subjective factors of this process is shown in the article. In particular, the features of the state power legitimation in Eastern Europe, lies in the fact that they initially confessed involvement in the European civilizational component and the prospect of joining the European Union, necessarily means adoption of Western standards of democracy. In addition, experience of representative democracy in the recent past history. Finally, the presence of a powerful public opinion, led to the impossibility of restoration of authoritarian and totalitarian tendencies. 

The policy and experience of the political transition from one mode to another and also the formation process of government and the ways of their legitimation depends on the complex of conditions. These terms and conditions of the transition from one regime to another determine the design of new power relations and their institutional expression, types and procedures of legitimation of political power. The process of legitimation of power is influenced by both objective and subjective factors. This issue is updated in view of the fact, that the process of getting used to democracy in post-totalitarian development of the former Soviet republics was complex and contradictory. The experience has showed that, the policy does not exist in the form of a certain technology torn off the socio-cultural conditions of the environment. Democracy implies the art of using democratic procedures, the presence of a particular culture. The realization of these factors of the new political elite in postSoviet countries is happening very slow. The processes of involving accidentally found or borrowed from other cultures of the new elements of the national political system into cultural homogeneous societies are happening in the post-highly specific manner. Democracy promotion hampered by the lack of its own democratic traditions in Kazakhstan as in many post-Soviet republics. That is why there is a need for understanding the features of legitimation of political power in the post-socialist countries of Eastern Europe. The former socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe can be conditionally divided into two groups. The first group consists of countries that had more or less long-term experience of the national state (for example, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland), the second are those who has found it only in the end of the last century as Slovakia, Macedonia. After the World War II the Communists took over the power and has been set the regime of "peoples’ democracy" in all of these countries. The peculiarity of this regime was the fact that, despite the constitutionally enshrined principle of the rule of the people and the presence of the representative bodies, the real power was held by the Communist Party. Higher body party decided all the important decisions, and the leader of this party acted as a true leader of the country. However, the formal schemes of government of the region have preserved some continuity with the existing in previous. In other words, there is a synthesis of the Soviet model of management and elements of the national political tradition in the existing system of political institutions.

During the reforms of the late 1980 s in all countries of Eastern Europe were introduced the institution of the presidency. Initially, the head of the state was elected by parliament, but with the deepening of reforms most countries passed to direct presidential elections. According to the Kynev A.S. who is the expert of the Institute for Humanities and Political Studies " The analysis of the institute of presidency in the Eastern Europe countries can let make a conclusion, that in all cases the institution was introduced by the way of legitimation or at least was legitimized by subsequent referendum or by the decisions of independently elected Constituent Assembly and parliaments " [1].

Analysis of legitimizing political power in post-socialist societies of Eastern Europe shows that, the process of transformation in them had specific nature due to geopolitical, historical, ethnic, and socio-cultural characteristics of the region. At first, the people of Eastern Europe have been associated with deep feelings of "ethnic identity", a sense of belonging to the European community, enhance joint of historical past and present. Secondly, communist regimes did not have deep roots, which were adjusted by strong socio-cultural, national and political traditions in most countries of Eastern Europe. On the ideas and values formed in European culture by political forces in Eastern Europe could be easier to achieve and maintain national unity throughout the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, to justify the purpose of social development and to identify the means to achieve them and, therefore, create more favorable conditions for the development the political process. In the preamble of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957 declared that the Eastern Europe countries have to "lay the foundation for a closer union between the peoples of Europe", "ensure the economic and social progress of their countries" and "continuous improvement of living and working conditions of the peoples" of states participants [2]. The attempts of the Soviet leaders to legitimize the power on own example, even by the way of direct military intervention (in Hungary in 1956 and Czech in 1968) did not give any results. Conversely, the interference of Soviet Union in the internal affairs contributed to the development of delegitimization process of power. This determined soft "velvet" character of the democratic revolutions of 1989 -1990 s, when the Soviet leadership into force in the changing internal and external circumstances had to refuse to interfere in the internal affairs of these countries. Thirdly, the formation of a new system of political relations in Eastern Europe began with the building of relations between stakeholders on the principles of political pluralism and consideration of all social interests. Of course, the process of transition passed independently reflecting the specific socio-economic, political, cultural and historical development, but was based on the same type political system, like the distribution of power between the major branches of government and the distribution of roles between the main political forces in each country.

The revolutionary changes in Eastern Europe have radically changed the social and political foundations of political power in this region. The fall of communism system brought an end to the monopoly of one party to state power. This led to the formation of a new system of political relations based on the principles of political pluralism and the integration of social interests of all social groups. Loss of the ability of the party to control the society, passivity and hesitancy of the communist elite contributed to the transition of initiatives to the opposition which has received moral support from society. In this direction, Poland and Hungary advanced more where despite of the opposition of the Soviet Union, were conducted the social-economic reforms. The first nonCommunist government appeared namely in these countries and they have shown an example of a civilized solution to the problem of change of power, using political mechanisms. For example, the transformation of a communist society in Poland began with the decision of the Polish Communists to join the political dialogue with the opposition. The negotiations allowed the opposition to legalize and opened the way to an evolutionary variant. In the crisis of the communist regime's, the ruling elite deliberately came to dialogue with the opposition as they had no other way to maintain control over state power. This encouraged the recognition by all political forces need to implement only a legitimate transition to democracy, by ensuring citizens' voting rights, to create conditions for a more complete representation of their interests in state government. The search for optimal representation of the contradictions between the principle and the goal of achieving political stability, limited to a choice between majoritarian and proportional electoral systems and the degree of readiness of the main political forces to compromise. For this purpose, a new political system are introduced the mechanisms such as multi-stage elections, the appointment of deputies from the top, the majority voting method. In Poland as a result of the negotiations there were changes in the constitution, providing the appearance of a bicameral parliament, the appointment of a president. There was formed the first non-communist coalition government, which was to form a new democratic system in Poland in September 1989. There were also decided to change the state apparatus, the abolition of state censorship, the introduction of full self-government at the level of cities and regions. Poland thus became the first country freed from communism peacefully. There were developed events by the scenario of Polish in Hungary, where traditionally there reformist wing. In Hungary, as in Poland, the formation of the opposition began long before its legal recognition. Back in the mid 80's into the political system in Hungary introduced changes associated with differentiation of functions of the Party and the state, democratization of political and domestic life. In the elections as well as in Poland, won by the opposition. There fore, limit the power of the communist parties, the creation of the first democratic government uncontrolled these parties have been a catalyst of political processes in all Eastern European countries. On a new type of legitimation of political power can be said in relation to the Czech Republic, where the change of the political regime did not occur as a result of gradual reform, and social activities as a result of mass society, the opposition organized a single center. Polish politician E. Vityar defined this type of political transformation of authoritarian regimes as "abdication", which means rapid collapse, surrender of authoritarian regimes [3]. There was a kind of differentiation as a result of the first democratic elections in Eastern Europe countries. In most of them the opposition democratic forces hold the power. In Czech, Poland, Hungary, new political forces were able to implement their programs and also to transfer from a command economy to a market system, to create a social-economic and social-psychological conditions for the development of civil society. The elections in these countries have opened a new stage of legitimation of power, which included the legal recognition of the political victory of the democratic forces, the institutionalization of democracy, achieving a positive relationship between democratic legitimacy and economic efficiency as a prerequisite for getting used to the new system, the citizens of political power. There were the transformation of political power in Bulgaria in their way, which was due to lack of development of civil society institutions. The ruling elite of this country taking the experience of neighboring countries, went to the top of the reform, choosing an evolutionary, non-radical way to change the political system. It should be noted that, the process of institutionalization in Eastern Europe countries is the process of restoring the interrupted tradition. The process of development of post-communist countries of Eastern Europe is perceived as the European integration processes in the political aspect, reducing the main European political traditions-traditions of parliamentarianism and European democracy. The idea of European identity entered a certain consensus regarding the goals and institutionalized means of political action in the political process of Eastern Europe countries. They adjusted to limit the impact of the type of personal political power characteristic of the socialist past and stimulated the growth of institutional positions like the idea of "European identity" were a kind of foundation for a new political power, when the society in the transition from authoritarianism to democracy experienced a distrust of all ideologies. The next feature of the process of post-communist countries of Eastern Europe became political parties. It is known, that in a liberal democracy, the institutional framework supports a political party. Partyspecific type of organization for articulating and promoting the power of the particularistic class interests. According to M. Duverge " party leads to the crystallization of public opinion: they even give the skeleton of this formless, gelatinous formation. And finally, they concentrate identical opinions, smoothing individual differences, taking personal identity, as if they melted them into several large families of thought " [4]. Namely the political parties became the hallmark of the post-socialist countries in Eastern Europe to fulfill a major function of foreign and domestic policy. The most of the political parties that formed the party system in Eastern Europe distinguish the desire to take the middle ground to avoid the ideological and political radicalism to consider the interests of various social groups. Besides, in a parliamentary republics (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia) mass notions of power associated with the parliaments and parties, in Poland with the political elites of the Seim and also with the president's environment. In most countries of Eastern Europe a leading role in forming the government takes the parliament, but the initiative in this matter belongs to the president. For example, the tradition of parliamentarism in the Czech Republic are among the strongest in Europe. Political parties of Hungary and Poland agreed to a compromise with the political forces, which fought against and thus create the most important preconditions of democracy.

President is the head of state in all countries of Eastern Europe, but not the government. The candidature of the Prime Minister I suggested by the president, but the right to final approval of the head of the cabinet in office belongs to the parliament. The other members of the government whether is appointed by the parliament on the vote of confidence, or appointed by the President on the proposal of the Prime Minister. The features of the most of the regional countries is that the key decisions are taking together by the president and prime minister. President makes appointments to a number of important government posts, a list of which is different for different countries. The gradual expansion of presidential powers are notices in the countries of the region throughout the 1990s . A significant role was played by the constitutional courts treating the disputed issues in the constitution in favor of the presidents. Perhaps their position due to what the president proposes for election or even directly appointed by constitutional judges. Besides, the powers of the President are quite large in Eastern Europe countries in the judicial sphere. For example, the President of Slovakia may order not to begin the criminal prosecution and the president of Czech Republic has the right to suspend the proceedings or even prevent it from carrying out. The constitutions of all Eastern Europe countries limit the multiplicity of one person stay in office (usually no more than two terms or a maximum of two consecutive terms). There is no vice president in this regions, so if released as president to call early elections and the head of state go to the chairman of the parliament. In all countries, a procedure for impeachment. Right to press charges against the President is vested in the Parliament, and the final decision is made by the Constitutional Court. In some countries there are constitutional limits on the President's entry into political parties in Hungary, Bulgaria and Macedonia, he is forbidden to serve as party officials. However, in most countries, no such limitation. In countries where the president is directly elected by the people, it is actually the leader of one of the leading political parties, which is indispensable to compete successfully for the post. However, where the president is elected by parliament, he aspires to political neutrality, for the obvious bias of the party can stop him, to recruit the necessary number of votes to win. Thus, we can note some regularity. 

In each of the post-socialist countries in the region formed its own presidential model, however, in most cases, the two models are many things in common. So for the presidency of Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria is characterized by the following features: (a) The president shall be elected by the population of the Two-Round system of absolute majority, and (b) there is a separate post of head of government, and (c) choice of prime minister approved by parliament by the president, and (d), the government is accountable to Parliament, the President can’t on their own to displace, but not possible without the consent of the President government appointments; (e) the President shall exercise some of the powers of the executive power to appoint or offer to approval by the National Bank and the prosecutor's office, the judiciary, (f) the conditions of an early dissolution of parliament strictly defined; (g) is limited to replacement of the multiplicity of the presidency by the same person, ( h) an institute of early presidential elections. However, none of the President of Eastern Europe countries can’t on their own and unmotivated to dissolve parliament, and its capabilities are limited in the sphere of legislation.

Presidents generally elected by the people and have even a limited but real power to dissolve parliament, appoint a large part of public officials, have a number of prerogatives of the executive branch. Eastern European governments (with the exception of Croatian) are accountable to Parliament, but a number of powers to the Prime Minister can only be done in conjunction with the President. The above allows us to conclude that the role of the presidency in the Eastern Europe countries is often much more significant than formally required by law. Thus, the institution of the presidency is a special type of Eastern European presidential systems as a formed in the most of the Eastern Europe. These types are Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Montenegro, Republic of Serbia and Croatia.

We have already noted above that, a feature of the relationship between the president and parliament in Eastern Europe countries is accountable to each other. Procedures for dissolution of parliament drafted in such a way as to avoid any abuse or political instability. In the matter of this in the constitutions of several countries provides a mechanism for consultations with the leaders of the President of Parliament, parliamentary leaders, the government, in addition there are quantitative restrictions on the dissolution of Parliament. In Hungary, according to the constitution, the president has the power to dissolve parliament only two times during the term of his office, in Romania only once during the year, while the constitutions of most countries in Eastern Europe is not a direct responsibility of the president to the parliament. Despite individual differences in the distribution functions of the main centers of state power, meaning the parliament, the president, the government, in most Eastern European countries have developed common features of the political system.

Thus, the investigation shows the following general points for these countries: 1) the final word of the Parliament in the procedure of forming a government, and 2) the dependence of presidential initiatives in the formation of the government of the balance of power in parliament, and 3) the establishment of parliamentary control over the government, and 4) the consolidation of president the right to dissolve parliament if the latter would be unable to form a government, and 5) tight regulation of the procedure of dissolution of parliament, which provides qualitative and quantitative restrictions, 6) President's responsibility for the violation of the constitution and laws of the state, the commission of crimes.

Another feature of modern European democracies is the trend towards decentralization. Decentralization is a global trend, indicating that the radical restructuring of the democratic mechanism. Europe according to the United Nations Development Programme has achieved some of the highest levels of decentralization in the world. It started in the 80's, when there were laws on local administration. This trend means the protection of the interests of territorial minorities to the will of the democratic majority which is well within the logic of the liberal paradigm of democracy. In Europe, local authorities are transferred more competencies. So in Slovakia local communities are transferred over 400 competence , which were previously managed by national authorities. It is assumed that the decisions taken at the local level, have more democratic legitimacy than the national decision. In this case it is a question of the privileges associated with local affairs. It is interesting that, it is the local authorities most support the idea of European integration gain, unnecessarily so, they get great guarantees of its sovereignty to the national government.

Local self government is inspired by the idea that, the citizens of the territories have more competences in the management of their local teams than national government representing the whole nation. Thus, today there is emerging areas of civic competence, representation at the national level is complemented by mechanisms such as local self-government or e-democracy [5].

The collapse of the eastern military-political bloc meant the return of the people of these countries to a common European civilization. The development of the integration process and the prospect of joining the European Union meant the desire of a common future. The experience of representative democracy in the historically recent past led to public opinion not allowed the restoration of authoritarian and totalitarian aspirations. Thus, having analyzed the peculiar properties of legitimizing political power in Eastern Europe, we came to the following conclusions.

Legitimation of state power in Eastern Europe due to the fact that, the elite and society were able to achieve a national consensus on what they want. They wanted to return to Europe, so they dismantled the old system, abandoned the monopoly of one political group, selecting fair elections, dividing private property and political power. Traditions and values generated in European culture helped the political forces in most countries of Eastern Europe to achieve national reconciliation, to justify the purpose of social development and to identify the means to achieve them. In the countries of Eastern Europe as a result of the institutionalization of political relations has undergone radical changes in the political system, creating a half – presidential or a parliamentary system of government with a normative democratic mechanism of formation and functioning of government. Despite of the characteristics and differences in Eastern Europe countries they developed mainly a consensus model of the transition to democracy. European societies nowadays are going through a process of deep restructuring of the political system, the formation of new institutions and mechanisms of legitimation. This is approved by the analysis of the processes of European integration, in which despite of the fact that, the idea of a European identity, given their results, there is a protest against the domination of the interests of the European Community over national. This indicates that, each of the Eastern Europe countries have own political forces for the preservation of national sovereignty and national culture and traditions and are sympathized by many citizens. In this respect it should be noted that, in the process of the development the historical and national traditions are in conflict with the theory of democracy. Even the liberal theory of democracy can’t be taken as a "sample". This approach has been justified in the early stages of the transition from communism to democracy in the absence of their own experience. However, for certain years are rethinking the old ideas of democracy within the political elite and within society. Thus, the development of liberal democracy led to the emergence of new elements of the institutional communication. Parties complement the trade unions, the various social movements that cause the need for new forms of collective will clarify and communications in society. These forms are now coming rightwing parties and movements, the development of e-democracy and local government.

The analysis of political reform in Eastern Europe countries has shown that, a major impact on the progress and success of the reforms that the country has had a parliamentary traditions, compromise and legitimate transfer of power, as well as social and ethnic homogeneity. Kazakhstan and other post-Soviet countries are necessary to study the experience, but taking into consideration their own geographical, historical and socio-cultural characteristics. Kazakhstan and European democracy are at different levels of development, as Kazakh policy is centralized, European exemplifies pluralism. Western democracy was being created during hundreds of years based on the consistent assertion of human values, gradual adoption of the state and the citizens of their rights and responsibilities. The democratic traditions are on its formative stages in Kazakhstan, so the calls passing immediately to the European norms of society is as a kind of democratic "extremism."

We should not in eclectic way and without awareness actually copy the European way. There is a huge difference in the content of the institutions of the state and society despite of all the external matches (form of government, economic system, social structure), in the direction of putting forward the state and society problems. Kazakhstan needs the formation of political and economic competition, the rejection of the monopoly to authority, the state program of political education and self-education of the people which will allow them to overcome his own passivity and political non-participation inherited from the Soviet period.


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Year: 2015
City: Almaty