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Thursday, November 11, 1999 Published at 14:44 GMT

Has capitalism failed the people of Eastern Europe?

"Capitalism hasn't failed Eastern Europe but some Eastern European countries have failed to adapt to capitalism."
Jacek Rostowski, Economic Adviser to the Polish government.

"Capitalism has failed the world rather than Eastern Europe and in that sense the problems that Eastern Europe has are generated by the system."
Boris Kagarlitsky of the Institute for comparative political studies at the Russian academy of sciences in Amsterdam.

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The Vote:
Has capitalism failed the people of Eastern Europe?
Yes No

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The Background:

The last months of this year are seeing a flurry of tenth anniversaries - celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism throughout Europe.

But in those ten years how has Eastern Europe fared in the free market?

Talking Point - Europewide
In recent opinion polls in the former Eastern Bloc, the people were not so sure. Most thought they were worse off now. Only in Poland did a bare majority, 51%, say they had no regrets.

Capitalism has brought unprecedented opportunities and inequalities; created new job markets, and destroyed jobs for life.

Politically, the advent of democracy has brought unexpected changes - with former communists reinventing themselves while old nationalisms have undergone a dramatic revival in many countries.

So, ten years on, it's time to ask: has capitalism failed the people of Eastern Europe?

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Your Reaction:

Capitalism has not failed, it is just that many people of Eastern Europe cannot free themselves from the communist mindset. It will take time and people will have to be very patient.
Ivana Avitov, Moscow

This is an unfair question. The question should have been if the West has failed Eastern Europe and the answer would have been a definite yes. We have not given a chance to capitalism in Eastern Europe yet to be able to answer your question. I have travelled and represented western business interests in Eastern Europe. What they consider as capitalism there I call opportunism and irresponsibility.
I believe that governments and businesses in Eastern Europe should strengthen their democratic systems and the law and order that comes with it before they try to embrace capitalism. This new "capitalism" that they have embraced, is hurting large portions of their populations and is undermining the newly established democracies. Eastern Europe needs to develop a strong "national upper middle class" which believes that its own prosperity is tied to the prosperity of their country, before they see the true benefits of capitalism.
Constantine Alexander, USA

It may be too early to tell, remember that most of the eastern European countries before WW2 were still stuck in the middle of the 19th century with rural economies. Communism did not do much to industrialise them, so they are starting with a huge disadvantage. Capitalism is based on industrialised economies.
Andy Trigg, England

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Has capitalism failed the people of Eastern Europe?

Votes so far:


Yes: 54% No: 46%

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