Political Parties After Communism: Developments in East-Central
Europe. By Tomáš Kostelecký. Washington, DC:
Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2002. 240p. $25.95.
Political Parties in New Democracies: Party Organization in
Southern and East-Central Europe. By Ingrid van Biezen. New York:
Palgrave, 2003. 256p. $69.95.
Much previous work on political parties and party systems in new
democracies has examined them as a means to democratic consolidation
and regime stability. Two new studies seek to give finer-grain
comparative analysis of party development in the relatively successful
new democracies of Southern and East Central Europe.
Tomáš Kostelecký's Political Parties
After Communism aims to give a broad overview of the development
of party politics in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
Kostelecký first outlines the historical evolution of parties in
the four cases from the midnineteenth century until the collapse of
communism and then gives a detailed survey of the development of
parties and electoral politics between 1989 and 2002. Subsequent
chapters take a more thematic approach, reviewing and synthesizing a
range of research to assess the impact of political culture, historical
legacies, social cleavages, and the institutional “rules of the
game” on party development. A concluding chapter weights these
different factors and seeks to highlight broader trends across the
region. These are then contrasted with current patterns of party
development in Western Europe.