Trade Unions and Employee Interest Articulation After Socialism
8. Poland and Hungary: Negotiated Transition as Significant Legacy
So far, the analysis concerned Poland. The statistics and in-depth examination of methods and demands present a relatively clear picture of the structure of protest activities. The dominant model throughout the period under study was working-class, union-organized protest with economic goals. Its forms changed from predominantly strikes and strike alerts to demonstrations, and its frequency receded in the long run. This type of activity was more common than activity launched in the name of identities, regional interests, values, social change projects etc.
In order to interpret the significance of this finding, a reference point is used. Hungary is a country in many ways similar to Poland, which controls for a number of intervening context variables. It is roughly on the same level of economic development. The two states experienced similar transition: a negotiated settlement between the communist government and the opposition. In terms of party politics, both countries were characterized by similar development of the party system: post-communist left and post-oppositional right alternated in government until late 2000s, when the post-communist left lost its popularity.
These similarities notwithstanding, civil society and the legacy of communism are different. While both countries were relatively free under state socialism compared with the other states in the Soviet bloc, independent activism was located in different social strata. In Poland, independent self-organization was strongest (numerically, at least) among workers in largest industrial plants. In Hungary, on the other hand, it was a phenomenon associated more with intellectual circles. These...
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