Cleavages, Parties, and Voters: Studies from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania

Cleavages, Parties, and Voters: Studies from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania

Cleavages, Parties, and Voters: Studies from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania

Cleavages, Parties, and Voters: Studies from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania

Synopsis

This collection of essays summarizes one of the most fascinating developments of contemporary history: the peaceful revolution of the Central European nations from a long period of authoritarian regimes to Western democracy. It looks at the pre-Communist history of political parties and then examines the extent to which party politics has changed in the post-Cold War world.

After reviewing the various theories of cleavage and considering the interrelationships among cleavages, parties, and voters, 15 essays by indigenous scholars provide general historical background and identify specific new cleavages in each nation, and trace the activities of the more important parties in each nation. Voter response to the new political situation and parties is analyzed.

Excerpt

Ernst Gehmacher

This collection of essays summarizes and explains one of the most fascinating developments of contemporary history: the peaceful revolution of the central European nations from a long period of authoritarian regimes to Western democracy. This process is still in full movement, so there is no escape from disturbing questions: Is this transition already achieved? Or is this a long-term evolution oscillating between ups and downs? Could the new political culture fail and collapse to a less flexible and humanitarian polity?

A simple answer cannot be given. But this book offers rich material and keen observations by some of the most knowledgeable political analysts in these countries. From such a treasure of information and analyses some fundamental regularities can be extracted. a preface may serve best in its function as signpost and leader to the book by waking the reader to these natural laws of emerging democracy in the process of modernization.

Modernization is the more recent part of the historical process of civilization— and is still going on rapidly.

Modernization means innovation: Open, mobile societies and the introduction of democracy accelerate and increase its dynamics. Change is introduced by mostly “new” elites.

A sequence of characteristic cleavages typifies the modernization process, from religious and national wars to social class and economic conflicts.

The evolutionary dynamics of innovation create new winners and losers; thereby, existing political cleavages are aggravated and new ones are created. in developed economies and democratic welfare states, winners and losers are partialized into “interest groups,” “minority groups,” “subcultures,” and “deviantmajority cleavages.” At the same time, globalization, high mobility, and communication power make for new cultural cleavages. the outcome is a high . . .

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