Coming to terms with communist past: comparative study of lustration policy in the Czech Republic and Poland
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Transitional or retroactive justice is chosen by political elites of countries in transition to come to terms with past. Lustration is a non-criminal measure of transitional justice. The Czech Republic and Poland both initiated lustration policy in the post communist period. The difference between these countries is that the former approved initial lustration act in 1991while the latter adopted lustration bill only in 1997. The laws were temporarily limited yet, both Czech and Polish legislators decided to engage with lustration once again after the initial laws had expired. The thesis offers a double layered comparative study of lustration policy in the Czech Republic and Poland. The first part focuses on initial lustration policy and highlights a) the factors which influenced the decisions whether to adopt or not lustration laws soon after the regime change and b) the factors that determined the nature of original bills. In the second part this thesis will explore various explanatory variables to explain the wave of late and renewed lustration initiatives in both countries. The analysis reveals that the decisions whether to approve or not lustration acts in the early years of post communist period were influenced by various past factors: the lack of legitimacy of the post Prague Spring government; the crisis in other communist countries; the loss of strengths of the ruling forces in Czechoslovakia, the weakness of the governing forces in Poland; Solidarity’s attitude towards regime change. The difference in nature was a result of different factors of present: the collapse of two governments and the communist return to power in Poland, the tendency of misusing past in the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the need to safeguard democracy/or the desire to discredit political opponents as well as the memory of post Prague spring regime as illegitimate and the memory of negotiated transition in Poland as a mistake explain the decision about the wave of new and renewed lustration in both countries.