Article Title

Historical Cleavages or Transition Mode? Influences on the Emerging Party Systems in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia

Type of Work

Article

Date

1996

Journal Title

Party Politics

Journal ISSN

1354-0688

Journal Volume

2

Journal Issue

2

First Page

177

Last Page

208

DOI

10.1177/1354068896002002002

Abstract

This article tests two propositions derived from European transitions to democracy on three countries in East Central Europe: Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. On balance, the paper finds that new party systems seem to be developing differently in postcommunist regimes than they did in Southern and Western Europe. First, the political cleavages of the pre-authoritarian period that might have re-emerged after an interruption in democratic rule did not simply `unfreeze' after the demise of communism. Second, the type of transition - whether by reform or ruptura - does not predict how ex-regime parties fared initially in East Central Europe. These findings suggest that, at least initially, the pre-authoritarian period and transition mode are likely to be less influential in shaping party systems than is the legacy of the communist authoritarian period. They also highlight the particularly destructive nature of communist rule in East Central Europe, in that it may have altered the bases of social and political life to a greater extent than did other types of authoritarian regimes.

Hamilton Areas of Study

Government, World Politics