Abstract

Studies of dual transition in East Central Europe have focused on how democracy influences the viability of economic reforms. This thesis examines the opposite link: what are the impacts of neo-liberal economic reforms on the new democratic institutions? Focusing on Estonia and Hungary, the study examines two related hypotheses: that swift, blueprint-style economic reforms will lead the government to (a) circumvent parliaments, and (b) avoid consultation with the citizenry. Examining the use of decrees to pass economic reforms, as well as four economic reform decisions (Hungarian pension reform and agricultural land privatisation; Estonian health reforms and the Narva Power Plant privatisation) the study finds that while the role of parliaments has been limited, they have not been circumvented. Consultancy firms and the World Bank have influenced policy-making extensively. However, parts of the neo-liberal agenda - transparency, clear rules of the game - have made possible democratic contestation of certain economic reform decisions

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