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Civil society – reality or myth within Eastern Europe, 20 years later?

Teodor Slavev
University of National and World Economy
Teodor Slavev
University of National and World Economy
Open Panel

Abstract

The shock therapy, proposed by the financial experts worldwide as the best method for transition from communism (directed economy) to democratic political system (open markets/liberalization of economy), seems to have reflected the society in many ways. Further the effects of globalization, the searching of identity, the trends of communitarianism and the intensifying social stratification are just some of the prerequisites to consider that political elites and institutions in Eastern Europe are to face some social issues. Civil society as a term has to be specified very precisely when it comes to Eastern Europe. The attempts of international organizations and governments to establish civil society around the region has failed. It is of great importance the political elites to lead policy towards establishing and development of a civil society as a preventive mechanism against contingent social eruptions. The empirical research of the NGO “EGO POLITICO” (The project was realized in a partnership with Transparency International – Bulgaria and includes over 30 observers of the election process, from the side of EGO POLITICO), conducted throughout the election for national parliament in the summer of 2009 shows that there is a rising social expectation and a strong movement, especially within the segment 20-25 years. The preceding student strikes (January, 2009) and the unseen percentage of young people voting are to alarm that social tension is rising. It is the civil society to find ways to canalize the social activity into constructive partner of the stakeholders. The mechanisms for establishing a strong and autonomous civil society really vary. The government should seek instruments for transparent financial stimulus – for instance a United National Fund for support of the civil society. Another very important mechanism is deliberate construction of a networking civil society.