Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

David H. Carwell


This thesis examines democratic consolidation in five Eastern European countries. The Baltic States have consolidated their democratic regimes but Romania and Bulgaria have struggled to do so. I attempt to explain why this has happened. In chapter one, I introduce the topic and provide an overview for the next six chapters.

In the second chapter, I examine the literature that pertains to this topic. The literature focuses on several aspects of democratic consolidation. I examine how economic growth, privatization, foreign direct investment, modes of transition, violence, initial post-communist political contest winner, electoral laws, and the citizenship law all play an important role in democratic consolidation.

In the third chapter, I set up the research design. I use a most similar systems design to guide my study. I first establish the guidelines for a consolidated democracy and use these guidelines to test each country in the study. I find the Baltic States have successfully consolidated their democracies while Romania and Bulgaria have not yet consolidated their regimes.

In chapter four, I examine how privatization and foreign direct investment have played roles in the consolidation process. I first examine the economic situations in all five countries and then try to understand why the Baltic States have had considerably more economic success than the Balkan States. I find that rapid privatization has had a positive impact on their economic growth. I then argue that this growth has helped the Baltic States to consolidate their regimes while the stagnant economies in Romania and Bulgaria have hindered consolidation.

In chapter five, I demonstrate how transitional factors such as modes of transition, violence and initial post-communist political contest winner have affected democratic consolidation. I find that all three factors have affected consolidation.

Chapter six demonstrates how electoral rules and the citizenship law affects democratic consolidation. I examine several aspects of the electoral rules such as which electoral system is employed, are any political parties outlawed, and whether thresholds are used. I find that a mixed proportional representation system exhibits the most desirable attributes. Also, I find that the citizenship law in Estonia and Latvia had a significantly negative impact on consolidation.

Finally, in chapter seven, I discuss how all of the factors combined have influenced each countries democratic consolidation efforts. There appears to be two interconnected sets of variables. First, the winner of the initial post-communist political contest affects privatization policy. Second, the mode of transition appears to have an impact on how the electoral rules will be set up. In the end, I find that there is not one variable that leads to democratic consolidation but several.