At Transitions Online, we often cover the bumps in the road for post-communist Europe and the former Soviet Union. Today’s feature, Ukraine’s Democratic U-Turn, is on the very real threat that vote buying and other irregularities ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary polls pose to the country’s recent record of generally transparent elections. As TOL Executive Director Jeremy Druker noted in a recent blog post, the transition is far from over.

Yet it’s also important to step back and appreciate just how much progress has been made – and is being made. A reminder came with this week’s release of The World Bank’s 10th annual ranking of global business climates. Six of the top 10 reformers in Doing Business 2013 are in TOL’s coverage area, and Poland boasted the most improvement worldwide.

A few highlights:

  • Poland leapt 19 spots to 55th place in the 185-economy survey thanks to four business-friendly reforms that made it easier to pay taxes and resolve bankruptcy, among other improvements. Ukraine jumped 15 places, Mongolia 12.
  • In the past year, Eastern Europe and Central Asia boasted the most economies to register improvements, with at least one institutional or regulatory reform in 88 percent of countries. And despite the EU’s shakiness these days, The World Bank gives European integration some of the credit for the progress in Eastern Europe.
  • Eastern Europe and Central Asia edged out East Asia and the Pacific as the second most business-friendly region this year.

Since the first Doing Business report, in 2003, Eastern Europe and Central Asia has improved the most, The World Bank says. True, it’s easier to improve on modest beginnings. But these strides are impressive generally, and especially so considering that many political scientists thought post-Communist Europe and the former Soviet Union would be an incubator of instability.

Photo of Warsaw from Wikipedia

S. Adam Cardais

S. Adam Cardais is a TOL contributing editor. Email:

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