Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 1, issue 4

Michael Waller, "'Editorial' to a Special Issue on Party Politics in Eastern Europe," Party Politics, 1 (October, 1995), 443-445.

First Paragraph:
In this collection of articles on party politics in eastern Europe material and perspectives are presented that will both inform historical judgements and will contribute to an understanding of the way in which contemporary political competition is developing in an increasingly disparate region. But there is more to it than that. Times change, and we change in them. It would have been surprising if the tumult of change in eastern Europe had not been accompanied by a corresponding shift in the arsenal of analysis that has been brought to bear on it. That arsenal is made up both of approaches and of people, and the way in which it has developed during the past six years is every bit as interesting as the analysed events.

Figures and Tables:
None.

Last paragraph:
It is to scholars deriving from these three different backgrounds that it has fallen to make sense of what has been happening in eastern Europe since 1989 in terms of the development of political parties. It would be possible at this point to attempt to portray and analyse in detail the differing reactions of each of these sets of scholars. That is a task that should certainly one day be addressed as a crucial part of the historiography of this momentous period in European history. The task will equally certainly not be attempted in this editorial, but it is important, in introducing this special issue of Party Politics, simply to draw attention to the different points of origin of the studies that it contains. These studies have been carefully selected, in some cases solicited, with precisely the aim in view of presenting analyses drawn from these different backgrounds. Moreover, the referees for each of the articles were deliberately chosen from different constituencies within this three-part universe. The range and the tone of their opinions were quite extraordinarily revealing, and it is a pity that they cannot be included here. They, no less than the articles themselves, reveal both the vigour with which the analytical challenges presented by change in the east of Europe have been taken up, and the dissonances that have resulted. We are clearly still too close to the great turn of 1989 for the new discussion, engaged in from such varied starting points, to come together fully. The factors involved are far too complex to venture onto here, but the present dissonance should be acknowledged. At the least controversial level there is the generational point. Two of the authors in this collection started their research careers in the period since 1989. The rest had already been conducting research, in many cases for a considerable time, before that date. In this sense the collection is a product of its time.