Dealing with personnel inherited from prior regimes in the administration of transitional states is critical for democratic consolidation, a problem traditionally addressed by the dichotomy of continuation or dismissal. However, major organizational innovations to deal with tainted officials appear in postcommunist Central Europe. Using the concept of lustration systems, this study differentiates three archetypes: dismissal, exposure, and confession. The authors propose that each system carries different symbolic meanings, which produce different outcomes for citizens’ trust in government and in tainted officials. The hypothesized effects of different lustration systems on trust are tested by an experiment embedded in nationwide representative surveys conducted in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. The results show that dismissal and confession increase citizens’ trust in government and trust in tainted officials. However, exposure reduces citizens’ trust in tainted officials.
Copyright © 2012 The University of Chicago
Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.