Matthew Wyman, Stephen White, Bill Miller and Paul
Heywood,"The Place of 'Party' in Post Communist Europe,"
Party Politics , 1 (October, 1995),
It is difficult to conceive of liberal democracy operating
without political parties. They are the main channel through
which the democratic debate is conducted.Their roles in
aggregating and articulating interests, formulating
collective goals, recruiting political leaders and in
political socialization can in principle be performed by
other institutions, such as leaders or governments, but it
is the peaceful transfer of power from one party to another
that is historically the 'litmus test' for assessing
Figures and Tables:
Figure 1: Membership of civic organizations.
Figure 2: Relative trust in parties.
Figure 3: Relative effectiveness of parties.
Figure 4: Desired forms of party competition.
Table 1: Support for one party or no party system by
demographic characteristics and voting behaviour, Russia and
Figure 5: Willingness to ban political opponents.
Figure 6:Depth of party identification (Russia 1 =
pre-election; Russia 2 =post-election sample).
Ultimately, however,the future of party systems may be more
strongly affected by the decisions of political elites than
the views of the population as a whole. In Hungary, Slovakia
and the Czech Republic, there appears to be an elite
consensus that the 'rules of the game' are that the
government should consist of those parties able collectively
to command a parliamentary majority. In Russia, however,
Boris Yeltsin appears much less convinced of the merits of
party government. In December 1993 he made a point of being
'above party' and of ostentatiously not endorsing any of the
contenders.Subsequently, he and his government have
continued largely to bypass the new parliament. In many
ways, then, political parties play at present a less
significant role than competing factions within the
government structures, and than local leaderships attempting
to assert their power against the centre.