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

Herbert Kitschelt, "Formation of Party Cleavages in Post-Communist Democracies: Theoretical Propositions," Party Politics , 1 (October, 1995), 447-472.

First Paragraph:
The focal point for studying patterns of party competition in any region of the world is still Lipsetand Rokkan's (1967) seminal article on the emergence of west European party system cleavages in the 19th century and first half of the 20th century.According to this study, the national and industrial revolutions created four cleavages - centre/periphery, religious/secular, urban/rural, and capital/labour - which have crystallized in European party systems to a varying extent, contingent upon the pathways of modern state and economic development and the political opportunities to mobilize electoral constituencies around unique party appeals. Moreover, Lipset and Rokkan suggest that once societal divisions have been converted into party cleavages they stay 'frozen' over extended periods of time, even though the underlying societal conflicts may subside.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1: Determinants of the programmatic structuration of party systems.
Table 1: Predicting the extent of the programmatic strucuration of party systems.
Table 2: The definition of citizenship right contingent upon ethnic group status.
Figure 2: Ideal-typical configurations of post-communist party systems: (a) Bureaucratic socialism and implosion: dominance of the socio-economic cleavage; (b) National communism, negotiated transition and cultural conflict; (c) Patrimonial socialism, pre-emptive reform and regime cleavage; (d) Ethnic conflict, patrimonial socialism and pre-emptive reform.

Last Paragraph:
The micro-logic of political cleavage formation in post-socialist regimes outlined in this paper cannot be reduced to a single, simple rule of thumb. The economics of individual citizens' personal resource endowments and citizens' positions in the occupational and sectoral division of labor clearly matter, but they are not solely responsible for the formation of political divisions that are articulated on the field of party competition. Historical experiences, in the sense of institutional pathways and elite strategies before, under and after communism, together with the ethnic division of labour that was installed under socialism, matter as well in accounting for different political cleavage lines and party alternatives.