Enfranchisement of the nomenklatura

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Enfranchisement of the nomenklatura – a colloquial term for the process of privatization and seizure of public property by some activists of the party and state nomenklatura, which emerged during the 1989 political transition in Poland and other Eastern Bloc countries.

The conversion of the political power of the previous elites of communist states to economic ownership is considered in the academic literature as a process of building “political capitalism,”[1] the real scope of which, however, is the subject of much controversy. The beginnings of the “enfranchisement of the nomenklatura” are usually identified in the second half of the 1980s and linked to the announcement of the so-called perestroika in the USSR, although some researchers see it even earlier.

Table of contents

1 “Enfranchisement of the nomenklatura” in Polish political discourse 2 See also 3 Footnotes 4 External links

“Enfranchisement of the nomenklatura” in Polish political discourse[edit | edit code].

The term “enfranchisement of the nomenklatura” became popular in political and media discourse in Poland in the 1990s. It usually appeared in the context of a critical assessment of the processes relating to it. However, one could also find views suggesting that the seizure of public assets by some activists of the former PZPR was a necessary element of the peaceful nature of the systemic transformation and would ensure the inclusion of the elites of the former nomenklatura in the process of building the Third Republic.

Among those justifying, to varying degrees, the process of “enfranchising the nomenklatura” as necessary were many participants in the Round Table. They presented their rationale in the pages of Gazeta Wyborcza, among others:

If people from the nomenklatura enter joint-stock companies, if they become one of the owners, then they will be interested in defending these joint-stock associations, and the joint-stock system destroys the Stalinist order (Adam Michnik in June 1989, in an interview with the Belgrade weekly NIN).

Wanting to make economic reforms profound and irreversible, it is worthwhile to entangle the people of the nomenklatura in economic activity so that they have a personal interest in the success and sustainability of the reforms. In addition, if it were possible to harness the energy and undoubted abilities inherent in the nomenklatura to mobilize dead or half-lived national assets, this could also pay off materially. I do not despair at the undervalued assets passing into the hands of the nomenklatura companies. One can always estimate, after all. That it will be a form of lending? It will be. Let’s treat it as a severance package for the nomenklatura, which served society, did not merit, but losing privileges honors feels dispossessed of the achievements of two generations. I am in favor of detachment (Jerzy Szperkowicz, To enfranchise and not to repent, “Gazeta Wyborcza” of September 25, 1989; Appendix C). The demand for no settlements of the past was also raised:

This must be an offer to the entire apparatus… it is necessary to open to these people the possibility of applying to take ownership of some of the property they manage, if they offer no worse guarantees than others for its use. And certainly, they should be promised at least one year’s notice with the real value of their earnings, preservation of privileges let alone irritating ones, comprehensive assistance in starting a new occupation or independent business. Possible early appropriately favorable retirement. And – importantly – no personal settlements for their previous activities (Ernest Skalski, Great Compromise, “Gazeta Wyborcza” No. 60, issue of July 31, 1989, pp. 3-4; Appendix D). According to the declarations of SdRP deputies, 90-95% of the party’s assets were earmarked for “payment of severance payments to full-time employees or donated for social purposes,” so over time the demand for official enfranchisement lost its relevance.

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