Discuss the key changes introduced in Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War-I? Why democracy failed to establish a permanent hold in the newly formed countries of Eastern Europe? Elucidate.
Changes introduced in Eastern Europe after World War-1
- The Treaty of Versailles resulted in new national boundaries and countries. The former empire of Austria-Hungary was dissolved, and new nations were created from its land: Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
- The Ottoman Empire was disintegrated and lost most of its land to Allies. It retained only the country of Turkey.
- Poland, which had long been divided among Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary, was reconstituted.
- Russian land yielded the new nations of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Russia and Austria-Hungary gave up additional territory to Poland and Romania.
Why democracy failed to establish a permanent hold?
It was believed that the World War-I had been fought to make the world safe for democracy. In fact the newly carved countries tried to establish a democratic state by inculcating democratic features like right to free association, rights of children and women, compulsory education, freedom of speech and expression and religious freedom. But it proved otherwise. A number of political and economic factors worked against the growth of democracy in Eastern Europe.
- Many of the people in this region were illiterate, and in addition, the existence of many quarrelsome nationality groups obstructed lawmaking in the legislative assemblies.
- Economic factors like lack of modern industry and the backwardness of agricultural methods kept standards of living low, while wealthy landowners blocked urgently needed reforms in order to preserve their traditional privileges.
- This approach to set up democracy led to the development of many small political parties, which most of time prevented any one party from gaining a majority in the assembly. Due to this political instability prevailed in the eastern European countries.
- The approach adopted for democracy led to establishment of extremists, separatists, left wing, and right wing groups.