A Concise Field Guide to Post-Communist Regimes

Actors, Institutions, and Dynamics
$24.95 / €21.00 / £18.00
Publication date: 
August (Europe), September (US), 264 pages, 37 figures, 44 tables

The unanticipated and unsolicited Russian aggression in the Ukraine in February 2022 highlighted the urgency of updating general assumptions about post-communist countries. The war has revealed the inadequacy of the terms and concepts employed for western democracies for describing, understanding, and predicting the developments in the “hybrid” regimes of Eastern Europe and the former USSR. Magyar and Madlovics strongly argue for a vocabulary and grammar tailored to the specifics of the post-communist bloc. In this concise companion to the 800-page The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes (CEU Press, 2020), they develop a conceptual framework in 120 propositions with (1) a typology of post-communist regimes and (2) a detailed presentation of ideal-type actors and the political, economic, and social phenomena in these regimes.

Each of the 120 propositions contains a statement and a succinct discussion supported by illustrative tables, figures, and QR-codes that connect the interested reader to the more detailed analysis in the Anatomy. In a condensed form, the holistic approach of the Anatomy is retained by treating political, market, and communal spheres as parts of a single, coherent whole. An analysis of twelve countries illustrates the concrete application of the method.

Foreword: A new paradigm for understanding post-communist regimes by Oleksandr Fisun

User’s guide to the book

I. The Conceptual Framework: 120 Propositions

Trapped in the Language of Liberal Democracy
Dissolving Axiom #1: Stubborn Structures and the Region’s Development
Dissolving Axiom #2: Formality and Informality
Dissolving Axiom #3: From Constitutional State to the Mafia State
A Sui Generis Phenomenon: the Adopted Political Family
The Formal Institutional Setting: Changing Patterns of Legitimacy
Legislation and the Legal System: From the Rule of Law to the Law of Rule
Defensive Mechanisms: Stability and Erosion of Democracies and Autocracies
Relational Economics: Corruption, Predation, and the Redistribution of Markets
Market-Exploiting Dictatorship: Coexistence of the Three Economic Mechanisms in China
Clientage Society and the Social Stability of Patronal Autocracy
Populism: an Ideological Instrument for the Political Program of Morally Unconstrained Collective Egoism
Beyond Regime Specificities: Country-, Policy-, and Era-Specific Features
Post-Communist Regime Trajectories: A Triangular Framework

II. Trajectories of Twelve Post-Communist Regimes

Estonia: Regime Change to Liberal Democracy
Romania: Regime Change to Patronal Democracy
Kazakhstan: Regime Change to Patronal Autocracy
China: Model Change to Market-Exploiting Dictatorship
Czech Republic: Backsliding Toward Patronal Democracy
Poland: Backsliding Toward Conservative Autocracy
Hungary: Backsliding to Patronal Autocracy from Liberal Democracy
Russia: Backsliding to Patronal Autocracy from Oligarchic Anarchy
Ukraine: Regime Cycles with Color Revolutions
North Macedonia: Regime Cycle with Intra-Elite Conflict
Moldova: Regime Cycles with Foreign Interference
Georgia: An Attempt to Break the Regime Cycle


"In the wide-reaching academic literature on corruption and oligarchs’ influence, Magyar and Madlovics’s synthesis and typologies are exemplary, and their conceptualization rigorous."
“Reading this book feels like having the curtains opened, letting the bright light come in. Everything becomes visible and clear. The experience of living in mushy political reality gives way to unsparing, exact analysis. What comes into focus may not be pretty, but having it illuminated, ordered, and explained is incomparable.”
"Węgierscy badacze: Ustrój, który wymyślili Orban z Kaczyńskim, wymyka się definicjom. To zupełnie nowa jakość."
"Hiermit ein drittes Forschungsparadigma zur Analyse der Entwicklung Osteuropas nach der Transitologie (in den 1990er Jahren dominant) und einem Konzept, das er als 'Hybridologie' bezeichnet, entwickelt werde. Jenes Dritte bezeichnet er als Paradigma der 'Post-Communist Dynamics'. 'The basic hypothesis of the authors is that the post-communist political trajectory after the fall of communism is leading to ‚informal patronal‘ systems of rule, and by no means to the establishment of Western-style legal-rational liberal democracy.' Die zentrale Institution jenes dritten Paradigmas wird als 'Mafia-Staat' bezeichnet. Dieses Konzept stützt sich auf Erkenntnisse über die historische Mafia, in der traditionelle Familienbeziehungen bestimmend sind und ein Patron die zentrale Figur darstellt. 'In essence, the mafia state is the business venture of the adopted political family managed through the instruments of public authority: the privatized... more