The citizens of postcommunist states have relatively low levels of trust in their basic political institutions. This paper argues that to consolidate the advances towards civil society and democracy particular attention must be paid to strengthening trust. Trust requires not just the institutional framework appropriate to democracy and the rule of law — already substantially in place — but also an appreciation of politics and civil society as spheres of continuing diversity, competition and conflict. The deficit of trust can be addressed by a leadership exemplary in its service to the public interest, and by an acceptance of the new, adversarial politics.

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