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Tim Haughton and Sharon Fisher, "From the Politics of State-Building To Programmatic Politics: The Post-Federal Experience and the Development of Centre-Right Party Politics in Croatia and Slovakia," Party Politics, 14 (July, 2008), 435-454.

First paragraph:
Although the development of party politics in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) since 1989 has generated a wealth of scholarly interest (e.g. Lewis, 2000; Millard, 2004), much of the focus has been on the transformation from state-socialist systems. Many of the former state-socialist regimes of CEE, however, were also constituent parts of multinational federations (Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia), yet the post-federal experience and its impact on the development of party politics has been largely ignored. While focus on the post-communist experience is extremely important for the development of party politics, especially of the left, the post-federal experience is central to the development of the right. This article seeks to help fill that gap by exploring the examples of Croatia and Slovakia. In both cases, party politics was largely structured around appeals relating to national autonomy/statehood during the 1990s; however, by the end of that decade, the politics of state-building was gradually being replaced by programmatic politics. After the dominant party in each of the countries lost power in 1998-2000, both engaged in a bout of reorientation, branding themselves as parties of the mainstream European centre-right, although with varying degrees of success.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Reinforcing and change mechanisms in Slovak and Croatian party politics

Last two paragraphs:
An examination of the cases of Croatia and Slovakia yields insights into the development of programmatic politics in states that emerged from multinational communist-era federations. Firstly, the federal experience and the timing and sequence of the first free elections and the extrication from the federal state helped shape the terrain of party competition, although decisions by political actors in the early 1990s were key. HDZ and HZDS emphasized the nation throughout the 1990s, thereby reducing the salience of economicbased left-right competition and shaping the contours of party competition. Secondly, even where the appeals to the nation have helped deliver electoral success in post-federal societies, the examples of Slovakia and Croatia suggest that where such appeals are combined with illiberalism and are received unfavourably by strategically important international clubs, they have a limited shelf life. While support can be reinforced in the short term through such means as charismatic leadership, a rhetoric directed against an 'Other' and insider privatization, these appear unable to lock in electoral success. Indeed, use of these tools can stimulate opposition parties to join together to remove the dominant party from power, helping to facilitate the emergence of competition based more on left-right programmatic grounds. Thirdly, the two cases suggest that international organizations and party groupings can play a transformative role in party politics, not only in providing additional incentives to form umbrella groupings to enact a second transition, but also in providing incentives for change when dominant parties lose power.

Last updated July 2008