You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Lustration and Transitional Justice

Lustration and Transitional Justice: Personnel Systems in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 328
Stable URL:
Find more content in these subjects:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Lustration and Transitional Justice
    Book Description:

    How do transitional democracies deal with officials who have been tainted by complicity with prior governments? Should they be excluded or should they be incorporated into the new system? InLustration and Transitional Justice, Roman David examines major institutional innovations that developed in Central Europe following the collapse of communist regimes. While the Czech Republic approved a lustration (vetting) law based on the traditional method of dismissals, Hungary and Poland devised alternative models that granted their tainted officials a second chance in exchange for truth. David classifies personnel systems as exclusive, inclusive, and reconciliatory; they are based on dismissal, exposure, and confession, respectively, and they represent three major classes of transitional justice.

    David argues that in addition to their immediate purposes, personnel systems carry symbolic meanings that help explain their origin and shape their effects. In their effort to purify public life, personnel systems send different ideological messages that affect trust in government and the social standing of former adversaries. Exclusive systems may establish trust at the expense of reconciliation, while inclusive and reconciliatory systems may promote both trust and reconciliation.

    In spite of its importance, the topic of inherited personnel has received only limited attention in research on transitional justice and democratization.Lustration and Transitional Justiceis the first attempt to fill this gap. Combining insights from cultural sociology and political psychology with the analysis of original experiments, historical surveys, parliamentary debates, and interviews, the book shows how perceptions of tainted personnel affected the origin of lustration systems and how dismissal, exposure, and confession affected trust in government, reconciliation, and collective memory.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0576-3
    Subjects: Political Science
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION (pp. 1-14)

    This chapter introduces the issue of policies designed to deal with personnel inherited in the apparatus of transitional states from previous regimes. The puzzle is that transitional personnel policies as well as their absence may negatively impact democratization. This is because these policies carry symbolic meanings that may create social effects that contradict their original political purpose of establishing trustworthy government. We identify major institutional innovations in Central Europe, manifested in a variety of alternative personnel policies, as plausible ways to address this conundrum. The alternative policies may convey a message of inclusion and conversion of inherited personnel and may...

  6. Part I. Personnel Systems and Transitional Justice
    • 1 Personnel Systems and Their Classification (pp. 17-42)

      Policies designed to deal with personnel inherited from previous regimes in the apparatus of transitional states are not limited to dismissals. Dismissals are specific types of personnel policies which, owing to their low transformative value, have been referred to as one-dimensional. In contrast to these policies, several Central European countries have developed alternative personnel policy models based on the inclusion of former personnel. It is therefore useful to conceive a concept with a wider ambit in order to encompass a variety of personnel policies within and outside the region and to facilitate their classification.² The concept proposed here to denote...

    • 2 The Symbolic Meaning of Personnel Systems (pp. 43-62)

      Chapter 1 classified personnel systems as exclusive, inclusive, and reconciliatory. Different personnel systems can have different origins and produce various effects. The main objective of this chapter is therefore to hypothesize the origin and the effects of personnel systems. We situate personnel systems into the context of the transformation of political culture and observe that personnel systems carry symbolic meanings that signify a purification of society in the aftermath of regime change. Although they were conceived as administrative-security measures, different personnel systems may be seen by the public as carriers of symbolic meanings that signify different methods of purification from...

  7. Part II. Lustration Systems in Central Europe
    • 3 Lustration Systems and Their Operation (pp. 65-92)

      This chapter explains how personnel systems operate in practice. It focuses on three archetypal versions of personnel systems: the exclusive, the inclusive, and the reconciliatory systems, which developed in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, respectively, in the 1990s. In Central Europe, these personnel systems were governed by transitional public employment laws known as lustration laws because they incorporated a lustration procedure: a method of screening inherited personnel against the socialist-era secret police archives.Lustration systemis a regional variant ofpersonnel system, which is theoretically derived from these lustration laws. It is a subset of personnel systems; both lustration...

    • 4 The Origin of Lustration Systems (pp. 93-130)

      The purpose of this chapter is to explain the origin of and differences among lustration systems approved in Czechoslovakia in 1991, Hungary in 1994, and Poland in 1997. It addresses the following puzzle: All three countries had overwhelming non-communist majorities in their parliaments after their first democratic elections. But only Czechoslovakia adopted an exclusive system. Why did they each develop a different lustration system? Pursuant to our discussion in Chapter 2, we examine two hypotheses: (1) the variation in the choice of a lustration system is a function of differing perceptions about whether former adversaries have been transformed; and (2)...

    • 5 The Politics of Lustration Systems (pp. 131-162)

      The implementation of lustration systems was inevitably affected by the political context in which these systems were embedded. However, once the implementation of lustration systems began, the systems in turn started affecting the political landscape. For many scholars, lustration systems originate in political scandals and create new political scandals. This chapter concurs, and it proposes a hypothesis of virtual cycles according to which the implementation of lustration systems is affected by the perceptions of former adversaries that these very systems shape. Pursuant to our theorization in Chapter 2, the exclusive system fosters a rigid view of former adversaries, which increases...

  8. Part III. Experimental Evidence
    • 6 Political Effects: Trust in Government (pp. 165-193)

      This chapter examines the effects of personnel systems on trust in government. The first section considers the role of trust in government in democratization and hypothesizes the effects that dismissal, exposure, confession, and other variables may have on trust in government. In order to test these effects, we devised an original experimental vignette that manipulated the methods upon which personnel systems were based, namely, dismissal, exposure, and confession. The experimental vignette was embedded in nationwide representative surveys conducted in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in 2007. The experimental setting of the survey is described in the second section. The...

    • 7 Social Effects: Reconciliation and Collective Memory (pp. 194-224)

      Government policies often bring unintended social consequences. Chapter 2 theorized that personnel systems, though originally deviced to reform the state administration, carry expressive meanings that may affect historical social divisions. Chapter 5 suggested that lustration systems in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland may affect the social standing of tainted officials and shape the memory of the past in different ways. This chapter examines the effects of personnel systems on social reconciliation and on the collective memory of the past. It is divided into three main sections. The first section theorizes that in the pursuit of political objectives, transitional personnel...

  9. CONCLUSION (pp. 225-234)

    In their efforts to establish trustworthy administration, many nascent democracies have faced the problem of personnel inherited from anciens régimes. Chile, South Africa, Iraq, and other countries undergoing transition from authoritarian rules have had to deal with personnel who were entrenched in their administrative and security apparatuses, and who remained—or were perceived to have remained—loyal to the previous regime. However, in spite of their potential to affect democratization and reconciliation, political science and transitional justice literature has not considered the resolutions of the personnel problem as being as important as those of constitutional designs, electoral systems, criminal trials,...

  10. APPENDIX A. The Dilemmas of Personnel Systems (pp. 235-239)
  11. APPENDIX B. The Experimental Vignette (pp. 240-242)
  12. NOTES (pp. 243-286)
  13. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 287-300)
  14. INDEX (pp. 301-310)
  15. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. 311-312)