Sharon Werning Rivera, "Historical Cleavages or
Transition Mode?: Influences on Emerging Party Systems in
Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia," Party
Politics , 2 (April, 1996), 177-208.
As the communist states of East Central Europe collapsed in
the late 1980s and joined the ranks of democratizing
nations, scholars initiated a lively dialogue about the
appropriate paradigms for studying 'postcommunism'. The
search for a theoretical toolbox has led some to the south
in the belief that the collective wisdom about democratic
transitions and consolidation developed for other regions
might shed light on the former eastern bloc (Bova, 1991;
Schmitter, 1994). Others argue that postcommunist societies
are unique and should be studied separately from the
standard 'transitions' literature (Terry, 1993).
Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Variations in the length of the pre-authoritarian
democratic period and the mode of transition to
Table 2: Comparison of the main political cleavages of the
pre- and post- authoritarian periods.
Table 3: Percentage of total vote won by type of party,
first two freely competitive postcommunist parliamentary
Figure 1: Combined vote for successor parties.
Table 4: Economic indicators and percentage of total vote
won by all communist-successor parties in first two
postcommunist parliamentary elections.
Although it is still too early to say for certain, it
appears that the legacies of the pre-authoritarian period
and transition mode have not been as influential in
determining the initial shape of party systems in East
Central Europe as they were in Western and Southern Europe.
Rather, it is the legacy of the communist authoritarian
period - the command economy, the decomposition of civil
society and the imposition of one-party rule - that seems to
have the greatest effect on the early stages of party
formation. To the extent that other non-communist
authoritarian periods exhibit these features, we can expect
to see similarities. On the whole, however, the political
reconstruction of postcommunist East Central Europe may well
proceed differently from that of other post-authoritarian
states, especially those in Western and Southern Europe.