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Seán Hanley, Aleks Szczerbiak, Tim Haughton and Brigid Fowler, "Sticking Together: Explaining Comparative Centre-Right Party Success in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe," Party Politics, 14 (July, 2008), 407-434.

First paragraph:
Despite their importance in contemporary European politics, parties of the centre-right remain a strikingly under-researched area of comparative European politics. This is particularly true for centre-right parties in the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), about which there is little genuinely comparative research. Having conceptualized the CEE centre- right and tracked its development in parallel national cases in a previously published collection (Szczerbiak and Hanley, 2006), in this article we consider in more directly comparative terms why some centre-right parties in this region have been more successful than others. We do so by comparing three CEE countries in the period 1990-2006 where the centre-right enjoyed contrasting fortunes: Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. We focus on these cases because, since the fall of communism in 1989, they have experienced clear and relatively well-established programmatic competition and offer a degree of variance. We define our dependent variable of centre-right 'success' in terms of centre-right formations' breadth and durability. We pay particular attention to three of the major centre-right formations in these countries in this period: Hungary's Fidesz, the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) in Poland. In comparing these three cases, we seek not only to examine the comparative development of a hitherto neglected set of parties, but also to test and expand approaches to party development in CEE more generally.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Centre-right breadth/inclusivity and cohesiveness/durability in post-communist Hungary
Table 2. Centre-right breadth/inclusivity and cohesiveness/durability in the post-communist Czech Republic
Table 3. Centre-right breadth/inclusivity and cohesiveness/durability in post-communist Poland
Figure 1. Possible critical junctures in the development of broad centre-right parties in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic

Second paragraph of conclusion:
Given these shortcomings, we looked for supplementary and complementary explanations capable of accounting more fully for the variation in centre-right party success across the three cases. Our analysis identified two such possible factors: (a) the presence of cohesive and credible right-wing elites peripheral to the initial group of ex-opposition elites who first took power after 1989; and (b) the subsequent ability of such elites to (re)fashion broad integrative ideological narratives relating post-communist transformation to earlier conservative, nationalist and anti-communist traditions. It suggests in particular that research on party development in relatively open, competitive and ideologically based CEE party systems should be more aware of the role of informal elite networks in party formation and stabilization, and that ideology and ideational factors may need to be incorporated more seriously and systematically into the study of party success in the region. Although we recognize that our study tests variables against a limited number of cases, we believe it offers building blocks for a more integrated model of (centre-right) party success in the region and note its recent, broadly successful application to the case of the Romanian centre-right and centre-right developments elsewhere in South East Europe (Maxfield, 2006; Ucen , 2006).

Last updated July 2008