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Ian McAllister and Stephen White, "Political Parties and Democratic Consolidation in Post-communist Societies," Party Politics, 13 (March 2007), 197-216.

First paragraph:
Political parties are indispensable for democracy, yet we know little of how they identify and articulate social divisions in new democracies. Much of what we know about the role of parties in democratic consolidation comes from the relatively new democracies of Portugal, Spain and Greece in the years following the end of their dictatorships in the mid-1970s, and from a range of Latin American countries (see, for example, Dix, 1992; Gunther and Montero, 2001; Linz and Stepan, 1996). By contrast, with the partial exception of Russia,1 comparatively little is known about the role of parties in representing social cleavages in the post-communist societies after 1990,despite the proliferation of surveys and studies examining the social bases of partisanship and politics.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. Left-right self-placement, emerging and established democracies
Table 1. Left-right self-placement by country
Table 2. Variables, definitions and means
Table 3. Social cleavages in the established and emerging democracies(regression estimates)
Figure 2. Age and left-right self-placement
Figure 3. Importance of social cleavages, established and emerging democracies
Figure 4. Party and voter left-right position, emerging and established democracies

First Paragraph of Conclusion:
Political parties have an instrumental central role to play in emerging democracies,by identifying, politicizing and representing social divisions. Perhaps more than any other factor, the success of democratic consolidation in a country is contingent on the effectiveness of political parties in structuring political conflict (Dix, 1992; Mainwaring, 1988). The results presented here have produced a variety of findings about political parties and social cleavages in the emerging democracies of post-communist Europe. Most importantly,the pattern of social cleavages and their political consequences is similar between the established and emerging democracies, with religion and the owner-worker cleavage dominating political conflict. To that extent,the social cleavages of the emerging democracies appear to have avoided the territorial conflicts based on urban-rural and centre-periphery divisions which were common in the established democracies in the early part of the twentieth century.

last updated February 2007