It is the aim of the paper to compare how Southern European democracies have reacted to past authoritarian regimes. In recent years the agenda of how 'to deal with the past' has become increasingly associated with the quality of contemporary democracies. Many years after the process of authoritarian breakdown, consolidated democracies revisit the past either symbolically, to overcome historical legacies, or sometimes to punish the elites associated with previous authoritarian regimes. New factors like international environment, conditionality, party cleavages, memory cycles and commemorations, politics of apology, and others, do sometimes bring the past back into the political arena. It is the object of the contributors to this volume to compare how Southern European democracies have reacted to past authoritarian regimes. The paper has two sections. In the first we seek to frame the concepts of authoritarian legacies, transitional justice and the politics of the past as they are applied here. In the second we analyse the forms of transitional justice that were present during the processes of democratisation in Southern Europe.
Visiting Professor, New York University
Research Professor, Institute of Social Science, University of Lisbon