The Issue
Andrew Stroehlein

Women in Politics

Latvia's Vaira

The Curse of
Elena Ceausescu


Ewald Murrer


CATHERINE LOVATT: Fascism on the
Rebound in

Czech Class and Society

Czechs and Roma

Croatian Farmers'
Blockade and

The MinMaj Rule in the Balkans

Czech Press
under Threat

The Privileges of
Power in the
Czech Republic

Latvia's New President


One Year away
from Prague


Baltic States
Czech Republic

Readers' Choice:
The most popular article last week

Corruption at a
Czech Law School


Book Shop


Music Shop


The First Futurist Opera Revisited

Central European
Culture in the UK


Post-Yugoslav Film


Transitions Online
Watch for their
relaunch on
19 July.


Information Technology
in Central Europe

with your comments
and suggestions.


Vol 1, No 3, 12 July 1999

Another Kind of Frontier Dispute

Unfortunately for many hapless Hungarians, the tourist season this year coincided with an organised protest by Croatian farmers that led to the country's borders being closed down. The timing was in all probability not a matter of mere chance but cynically calculated to cause maximum disruption.

Gusztav Kosztolanyi

S L I C E   O F   L I F E:
A Year Away from Prague

One year ago, Milos Zeman's Social Democratic government took power in the Czech Republic. A rather less publicised event was the departure from Prague of CER's Catherine Miller for a year in the UK. She is now back and takes a personal look at what has changed in the country over the past year.

Catherine Miller

Theme of the Week: Women in Politics

T H E M E   O F   T H E   W E E K:
Latvia's New President:
Not a Moment Too Soon

Gender was hardly an issue in the recent Latvian presidential election. What matters more is what Vaira Vike-Freiberga will do with her presidency.

Mel Huang

T H E M E   O F   T H E   W E E K:
The Legacy of Elena Ceausescu

Romanian women entering politics today have few role models. The execution of the Ceausescus in 1989 destroyed the image of Elena as the female ideal, but no one has ever really taken her place.

Catherine Lovatt

CER's Regular Columns:

A Touch of Class?
Sean Hanley
Reflections on the Czech 'tracksuit culture' and notions of class in Czech society.

Sam Vaknin
Minorities neighbouring majorities cannot get along. This is the way it is: a chain of abuse, a torrent of prejudice, an iron curtain of malice and stereotyping.

CULIK'S CZECH REPUBLIC:  Press Freedom under Threat
Jan Culik
On 7 July 1999, in spite of vociferous protests from the Czech media, the Czech Parliament passed the first reading of a controversial draft press law.

AMBER COAST:  The New Latvian President
Mel Huang
Latvia's problems have mounted, and the new President certainly has her work cut out for her.

CONFETTI:  Without Prejudice
Vaclav Pinkava
Perhaps I have inherited my racism, but I still prefer to be robbed by a professional Gypsy pickpocket than some violent thug in a dark alley.

MIORITA:  Iron Guard Revival
Catherine Lovatt
Should Romania fear a revival of the interwar fascist movement, the Iron Guard?

CSARDAS:  Another Kind of Frontier Dispute
Gusztav Kosztolanyi
The Croatian farmers' blockade and Hungary

The Land Where Heroes Wear Dunce Caps
Tomas Pecina
Last week, the otherwise stagnant waters of Czech politics were disturbed by an event which would hardly be regarded as political in most other places.


Back Up!




P R O S E:

Ewald Murrer

The company gathered in the house at the customary hour. In itself, then, this was nothing extraordinary. It could be said that all was as it should be... The countryside beyond the windows of the house was growing dark; it was evening and the sky reddened the room. At the moment the walls were turning crimson someone pounded on the gate with a resolute, perhaps even a nervous, knocking.

B O O K S:
The CER Book Shop:
Books about Central and Eastern Europe

Have a look at CER's list of books on the region - all available from The list is divided into five subject headings: cinema, literature, politics, history and economics.





M U S I C:
The CER Music Shop:

The on-line shopping supplement.





T H E A T R E:
Zaum and Sun:
The 'first Futurist opera' revisited

When Victory over the Sun premiered in 1913, audiences didn't really know what to make of the striking and chaotic Russian futurist opera - which indeed proclaims victory over the rather cumbersome luminary by locking it in a concrete box. Almost a century later, director Julia Hollander, in association with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Art, is giving them another chance to take a stab at this difficult work with her own contemporary rendition, recently on display at London's Barbican Centre.

Isobel Hunter

O N   D I S P L A Y :
Coming Up in the UK

Details of selected Central and East European cultural events in the UK over the next few weeks.

Andrew J Horton




Y U G O S L A V  F I L M:
Who Will Take the Blame?

Post-Yugoslav filmmakers create a grateful audience for family massacres.

Peter Krasztev

Back Up!

Last Week's News in Central Europe:

The Baltic States    Mel Huang

The Czech Republic    Kazi Stastna

Germany    RP Online

Poland    Donosy-English

Romania    Catherine and David Lovatt

Slovakia    Frances Bathgate


Back Up!

The Issue

This week, Central Europe Review looks at the issue of women in Central and East European politics.

Over the region as a whole, women are underrepresented in political bodies. Though the situation is hardly more equitable in most of the West, it seems that patriarchal politics in Central and Eastern Europe is more deeply rooted, accompanied as it is by strong social expectations of women's double burden and combined in many countries with a deep suspicion of anything that might be labeled "feminist."

In this issue, CER examines two specific cases, and the dramatic difference between them highlights the scope and range of this topic.

Actually, it would be hard to imagine two more diametrically opposite women than Latvia's Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Romania's Elena Ceausescu. Vike-Freiberga is a modern, highly educated woman with several languages and degrees to her credit, as well as a wealth of international experience. Elena Ceausescu only ever received her degrees through the endemic nepotism of her husband Nicolae Ceausescu's regime, and she achieved infamy rather than fame on the international front. Vaira Vike-Freiberga is a politician in her own right; Elena only ever got anywhere as Mrs Ceausescu.

About all they do have in common is that they are (or were) both women in Central and East European politics.

Perhaps this outstanding difference reveals the partial hollowness of our chosen theme in this day and age. Mel Huang relates in his article that Vike-Freiberga's gender played little or no role in the recent Latvian presidential election: the public at large and the members of Parliament who elected her were far more concerned about issues and the serious problems Latvia is facing today than with the candidates' sex.

But to the south, gender differences in politics are still crucial; in fact, as Catherine Lovatt points out in her contribution to this theme, it is the very legacy of Elena Ceausescu itself that makes it so.

The theme is thus not hollow by any means: women are still exceptional in Central and East European politics, and those few women who do rise to the top play a pivotal role in forming the image of women in power for the next generation of politicians. CER will certainly be returning to this theme again in the future.

Andrew Stroehlein, Editor-in-Chief, 12 July 1999

Back Up!


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