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Kenneth Ka-Lok Chan, "Structuralism Versus Intentionalism in Post-Communist Party System Evolution: The Polish Case," 7 (September 2001), Party Politics, 605-619.

First Paragraph:
The central concern of this Research Note is to establish whether there has been significant progress towards the institutionalization of post-Communist party systems in the last decade, and whether there is today a more solid basis for consolidation of democratic government than there was during the earlier stages. This focus on the emergent party politics is in line with two important observations in current research. First, the existence of autonomous political parties is commonly regarded as an essential aspect of all modern democracies. Second, the dynamics of competition and cooperation between parties is unanimously seen as having significant implications for the consolidation of newly established democratic regimes.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Crystallization of the Polish party system, 1991-7

Last Paragraph
Finally, the prospects of democratic consolidation are much improved now that parties have become generally more moderate and pragmatic than before. All the major parties are democratically oriented, whilst those with less-than-democratic aspirations have lost much of their electoral appeal. Elections have become the legitimate route to power; whereby parties compete with one another to win the support they need in order to govern. The country has already satisfied the conditions required by Huntington's 'two turnover test': when power has been passed between parties on at least two occasions by peaceful, electoral competition. Many political leaders have had experience in government as well as opposition. Importantly, parties and their leaders are not fearful that electoral defeat will lead to their demise. The constitutional arrangements are no longer questioned. Both veteran Solidarity activists and former Communist cadres have realized that there is a place for them in the new order and have learned to take advantage of it. That Poland has met all the a priori political criteria for entry into NATO and the EU is indisputable (Hyde-Price, 1996: 243-53; European Council, 1993). Admittance to organizations such as these is crucial to the durability of democracy in the long run. In dynamic terms, the way elections have been conducted, parties have evolved and government has changed hands in the last decade gives reason for hope that Poland will not easily relapse into forms of populism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism. In all, it may be safely concluded that Poland is now well on track towards democratic consolidation.