Four factors seem to be decisive in determining the character and dynamics of transformation: the legacy of the past - the initial condition; the institutional choices; the degree of external assistance; policies of the new governments. In order to understand the East-European transformations and discover any patterns in these processes one must turn more attention to the legacy of the past and the initial condition i.e. follow a path dependency approach. No breakup with the past, even such radical as in East-Central Europe, can ever be complete. The past carries not only the elements dysfunctional for the new democratic and market order but also some which provide support for the changes. Among them one can list the negative experience with political crises, the attempts to reform the economy and liberalize the political system (even if not successful), the pragmatism of the communist elites, the emergence of the political and cultural opposition, the opening to the West. The 'path dependency' perspective, combines serious analysis of the historical experiences with the appreciation of singular events (such as for e.g. the first free elections) and their temporal sequence. It explains why some countries are successful in their transformation while others can't leave the circle of doom.