Among the arguments for rapid economic reform in transitions to the market in Central and Eastern Europe, scholars have argued that rapid reformers could better take advantage of the period of ‘extraordinary politics’ at the beginning of the transition. Regime transitions provide a unique opportunity for politicians to implement economic reform since the public is more likely to grant the government room to reform. If the public is more likely to give politicians this window of opportunity, politicians should implement far-reaching reforms during that period. I test two propositions in this paper: (1) politicians in office during a period of liberalization will get high positive ratings at the polls which will gradually deplete over time; and (2) at the beginning of the transition, views of the current economic situation will not predict views of politics. I find that approval of the Polish government was unusually high in the first one and one-half to two years of the Polish transition. In the same period, assessments of the current economic situation only weakly affected assessments of politics. After the period of extraordinary politics comes to an end, the relationship between political and economic assessments is much stronger. Thus, in a country with a harsh economic reform program and six contentious national elections within eight years, there is strong evidence that politicians benefited from a period of extraordinary politics at the beginning of the regime.

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