1989: A Year of Momentous Change
A Virtual Special Issue of Europe-Asia Studies, with articles selected by Professor Martin Myant
Over the years since 1989, Soviet Studies/Europe-Asia Studies has published articles on different aspects of the dramatic changes that took place in that year. This virtual special issue to mark the thirtieth anniversary reproduces a selection of them.
1989 was a year of momentous political change across eastern Europe. At the start of the year Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania were all effectively one-party states, with a ruling communist party (sometimes with a different name) suppressing opposition and taking all important political decisions. By the end of the year that system had collapsed in all of those countries. The ‘leading role of the party’ had gone, opposition parties and movements were free to operate, new governments had been formed, often dominated by opponents of the old regime, and contested elections had either been held or were scheduled for the near future. This was part of a general transformation, covering also the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and a number of other state socialist countries. However, the changes in the six countries in eastern Europe were exceptionally rapid. There were similarities across countries in the processes and outcomes, alongside significant differences in the nature and ordering of changes, as indicated in the chronology at the end of this introduction.
Europe-Asia Studies is the principal academic journal in the world focusing on the history and current political, social and economic affairs of the countries of the former 'communist bloc' of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Asia. At the same time, the journal explores the economic, political and social transformation of these countries and the changing character of their relationships with the rest of Europe and Asia. From its first publication in 1949, until January 1993, the title of Europe-Asia Studies was Soviet Studies. The Editors' decision to change the title to Europe-Asia Studies followed the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. It reflected the belief that countries of the former 'Soviet bloc' would gradually become more closely linked with both Europe and Asia, while continuing to present distinctive topics for research as a consequence of their specific experience. In 2007 the Editors took a further decision to extend the journal's scope to include China and other Asian countries that are or were under communist rule. Europe-Asia Studies publishes original research articles, review articles and book reviews, and welcomes proposals from Guest Editors for special issues or special sections. Europe-Asia Studies is published by Routledge on behalf of Central and East European Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow.