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By Isaac Schapera

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In Bulgaria, free elections held in June 1990 returned the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) to power and, after losing the next elections, the socialists returned to power in 1995. The BSP remained relatively unreformed until 1995. In Albania, communist leader Ramiz Alia was elected president of Albania in April 1991 and remained in office until April 1992. What this means is that, in these three countries, the initial phase of the post-communist transition was managed by the communists themselves.

Yugoslavia has broken up into seven successor states. The breakup of Czechoslovakia gave birth to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. And the GDR united with the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, ending forty-one years of separate existence. Today, most of the states of the region have joined both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), thus entering into alliance with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and other West European states, and the European Union (EU), a political and economic community which, at this writing, unites twenty-seven European states in a single market with common standards for legislation and a common trade policy.

Even after 18 Sabrina P. Ramet and F. Peter Wagner its official dissolution under military law, Solidarity remained a formidable opponent of the military dictatorship of General Wojciech Jaruzelski. Nevertheless, initially also in the Polish case, round table talks were held to reform state socialism. Those talks wound up being radicalized, so to speak, by the electoral results of the semi-free elections of 1989 which led to the formation of the first non-communist government. Obviously, both cases also point us again to the effect that organized opposition had on the unfolding of events.

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