>CEE: the Benelux of the post-communist world (but less exciting)?


I like the end of year radio programmes where journalists stop trying to tell us what has just happened and have a go at forecasting what will happen. Unloading the dishwasher morning and evening, I caught both Correspondents’ Look Ahead and the last Start the Week of 2007. Both provide a brutally clear summary of the places that really matter in world politics: the US, China, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran India, Africa, Russia, roughly in that order. Central and Eastern Europe doesn’t get a mention beyond one comment on Serbia and Kosovo/a. Peace, growth, EU membership have made CEE and its politics about as exciting as and important as Scandinavia or perhaps Belgium, given the a constant trickle of medium-low level political corruption, although Belgian politics is actually rather more exciting than anything to be found in Slovenia or the Czech Republic these days.

As if to make the point, Czech political scientist Miroslav Mareš struggles to tell readers of economics daily Hospodářské noviny what exciting new themes Czech politics has served up to political scientists in 2007: some unresolved questions about party system consolidation (Will the Social Democrats team up more closely with the Communist? Will the current coalition lay the basis of a more solid right-wing bloc? Does anyone know how public policy is actually made in the Czech Republic? And some small scale, radical social movements protesting against proposed US radar bases). Somehow you sense him yawning over his keyboard.

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