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Party System ChangeApproaches and Interpretations$
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Peter Mair

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198295495

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198295499.001.0001

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What Is Different About Post‐Communist Party Systems? 1

What Is Different About Post‐Communist Party Systems? 1

(p.175) 8 What Is Different About Post‐Communist Party Systems?1
Party System Change

Peter Mair (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This is the second of three chapters on political party systems and structures of competition, and looks at post-communist party systems in Europe. The author’s intention is to explore some preliminary thoughts on the specific characteristics of newly emerging party systems, and of newly emerging post-communist party systems in particular, and to identify the major reasons why these newly emerging systems may look and perform differently from established party systems. It is suggested that differences in the democratization process, in the character of the electorate, and in the context of competition, together create formidable obstacles in the path of eventual consolidation, and that these also imply a pattern of party competition likely to prove both more conflictual and adversarial than is the case within the established democracies. The approach has been to identify the sort of factors that have encouraged the stabilization and institutionalization of established party systems, and then to turn these on their head in order to hypothesize and speculate about the sort of factors likely to be absent from newly emerging party systems, and from post-communist party systems in particular. The discussion is presented in five sections: (1) Newly Emerging Party Systems; (2) Post-Communist Democratization is Different; (3) The Electorate and the Parties are Different; (4) The Context of Competition is Different; and (5) The Pattern of Competition is Different.

Keywords:   adversarial democracies, character of electorate, conflictual democracies, democratization process, democratization, east European democracies, eastern Europe, electorate, emerging party systems, established party systems, Europe, institutionalization, party competition, party systems, political parties, post-communist democratization, post-communist party systems, post-communist party systems, stabilization, structures of competition

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