ABSTRACT

Amid all the scrutiny and discussion of the post-Communist transformation in Central and Eastern Europe, public policy debate has been a comparatively neglected topic. This is a little surprising, for in the "Big Bang" of 1989 citizens were seeking not just relief from a collapsing economic system, but political freedom, which implies participation in public debate. On the other hand, sometimes the "bang" was so explosive, and citizens in such a state of rebellion against institutional authority—to the point of outright violence in Romania—that sheer ventilation had to come first, with public debate as a kind of second wind.