Botched transitions: what we can learn from the mistakes of the past for planning future democratic transitions

The democratic transitions in Europe at the end of the cold war took place in unique circumstances. This suggests that the lessons learned during the transitions in the early 1990s will be of limited use to any future transitions from “illiberal” back to more liberal democracies in Hungary, Poland, Russia, Turkey and elsewhere. Some issues which were of great importance in the early transitions, like the fundamental transformation of the structure of the economy and the introduction of a new system of private law based on the centrality of effective protection of property rights, will hardly be as important an issue in future European transition. It could thus be helpful to look to other parts of the world like Latin America whose constitutional transitions have been less profoundly shaped by the legacy of cold war bipolarity and have also taken place more frequently.