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Michael Waller, "Adaptation of the Former Communist Parties of East-Central Europe:A Case of Social-democratization?" Party Politics , 1 (October, 1995), 473-490.

First Paragraph:
The evolution of the former communist parties of eastern and east-central Europe after the turning point of 1989 presents the political analyst with a quite remarkable series of cases of adaptation of political parties to changes in their environment. The task of analysis is made more complex by the fact that the strategies of parties of both right and left in the whole of Europe have been in flux for at least the past decade. Whilst change has been particularly acute in the east of Europe, prompting a focus on transition as an organizing concept, eastern turbulence cannot be detached from less dramatic but still substantial change and programmatic renewal in the west. Such circumstances call for caution in analysis, and this paper must be prefaced by a disclaimer. Social democracy is a fickle,essentially contestable concept. For this reason the emphasis in this article is put on the process of adaptation of the communist parties rather than on a defence of the claims that the majority of them make to be social democratic. To assess that claim against competing versions of social democracy would require a totally different treatment. What is offered here is an account of a particularly important chapter in the historical rivalry between the two major strands of the European left since the Russian revolution, and in the structures of international accreditation that the rivalry involved.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Chart of name changes.

Last Paragraph:
When the emphasis is placed on structural factors,what emerges is that the ability of the communist parties to adapt to their changed circumstances is due in good part to an organizational strength and leadership skills inherited from the communist past; it is due also, with the exception of the Czech Republic, to the weakness of social-democratic rivals who might have competed with them for the support of those disillusioned with the social costs of the transition when those costs began to bite; and finally their factionalized character has made adaptation a matter of a shift in the balance of forces within the parties,rather than a destabilizing lurch. For the rest, historical perspective is required to put into context both the evolution of the communist parties within a European framework, and the working out to a final conclusion of the rivalry between communism and social democracy. The price of survival for the communist parties was that they were led to don the apparel of their rivals of yesteryear, and to solicit accreditation from the Socialist International, which was composed of the parties which for over half a century they had abhorred. It was a small price to pay - especially when,with the passing of time, survival turned into victory.