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Tim Bale and Aleks Szczerbiak, "Why Is There No Christian Democracy in Poland - And Why Should We Care?" Party Politics, 14 (July, 2008), 479-500.

First paragraph:
In the field of party politics, there is an implicit expectation that the party systems of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) will, over time, come to resemble those of the Western half of the continent. True, there is evidence to suggest that the differences between 'old' and 'new' Europe are as significant as the similarities, and may prove very persistent. But, superficially at least, there appears to be some support for such an expectation. After all, most CEE countries have parties that can be plausibly placed on the familiar dimensions (left-right, authoritarian-liberal, etc.) and many of them, rather conveniently, get together with their Western counterparts in European party federations or at least party groups within the European Parliament (EP). One of the obvious differences between the party systems of CEE and their Western counterparts, for example, is that there are no cases in the former of a Christian Democratic party that could claim anything like the success enjoyed by such parties in the latter in countries like Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and, before its implosion in the early 1990s, Italy.

Figures and Tables:
None.

First paragraph of conclusion:
No self-declared Christian Democratic party has been successful in post-1989 Poland. None of the currently 'successful' Polish right-wing or centre-right parties has self-consciously sought to profile itself as Christian Democratic, nor do any of them fit the ideal type of an archetypal Christian Democratic party that we set out in our five-point model. A close examination of the period after the fall of the communist regime found that only the first of seven factors identified as crucial to the success of a Christian Democratic party - a substantial, practising Roman Catholic population - appeared to have been present unambiguously during the emergence of democratic, multiparty politics. A second factor - fear of a takeover by a militant secularist, anti-clerical, egalitarian and potentially totalitarian left - also existed, but only in attenuated form. None of the other five factors identified were present in Poland, or only in a very limited or qualified form. That this was the case, however, was very much a matter of agency and contingency as well as structure.

Last updated July 2008