Comparative European Party Systems

Comparative European Party Systems

Comparative European Party Systems

Comparative European Party Systems


This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the party systems of the whole continent of Europe. This work also includes case studies of the Baltic States and Balkan democracies and goes as far east as Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Turkey.


It is an especially gratifying experience to be able to contribute a preface for Alan Siaroff’s great book on elections in Europe. There is no political science more fundamental than that which concerns itself with how people exercise the most basic of democratic rights—the choice of a government through the ballot box. Long before the end of the Cold War, Western Europe was already the world’s best laboratory for comparative electoral studies. It offered a degree of politico-cultural homogeneity and variation meaningful enough to make it a particularly fertile ground for comparative work. Ever since the historic changes of 1989-1991 the former Soviet sphere in the East has been home to revolutionary democratic change on a scale that puts many of the most venerated assumptions concerning democratic governance to the test. For that reason above all, Siaroff’s work will stand for some time to come as the most sweeping comparative analysis of Western and Eastern Europe’s decade of radical transitions.

That is no small achievement. In order to complete a study so broadly comparative as this one—and to mold the facts into a format and prose digestible to the undergraduate and graduate legions of European political studies—the author must be a confident master of his material. Judgements and generalizations made across political contexts and cultural borders also require a hefty dollop of professional courage. In this book Siaroff has demonstrated an enviable combination of steady commitment to his craft and a vision of Europe expansive enough to imagine great possibilities for the democratic future. The organization and content of the book speak volumes about its author’s dedication to the heuristic calling of all sound political science. Over the coming years the book’s inherent usefulness to all serious students of electoral affairs will in turn testify to the debt we owe to Siaroff’s scholarship.

As series editor, I would like to thank him personally for publishing his book with Garland. Working with him has been an education; getting to know him as a friend and colleague has been a privilege.

Carl Cavanagh Hodge

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