Ostensibly democratic elites drawn largely from the non-communist intelligentsia have taken over the most prominent positions in the “new” political systems of East Central Europe. To what extent do they resemble either their interwar or communist predecessors? The answer is complex, but even prior to the return of post-communists to a share of power in Poland, certain similarities were apparent. The present elites come largely from what one former dissident has called the “lower nobility” of the communist era; most lived fairly comfortably under the old order and many contributed significantly to its support system. Like their predecessors, they are perceived as being remote from public concerns, and many have yet to learn the accommodative and bargaining skills associated with politics in longer-established democracies.

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