Pathways: A Study of Six Post-Communist Countries

By Lars Johannsen; Karin Hilmer Pedersen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Breaking with post-communism
in Poland

Radoslaw Zubek

This chapter studies the consolidation of democracy in Poland. In doing so, it focuses on the extent to which Polish governments produce policies that maximise collective benefits to democratic majorities (‘public good policies’). It argues, first, that Polish parties find it difficult to provide the leadership for such democratic responsiveness. This is because, despite some centralisation of intra-party powers, the party leaders’ control is undermined by the programmatic incohesiveness of their parties, the far-reaching politicisation of the public administration, and the porous interface between politics and business. Moreover, the erosion of party controls coincides in Poland with limited interparty cooperation. Second, the paper shows how party configurations impinge on the emergence of state structures that facilitate democratic responsiveness. In doing so, it analyses the institutional position of the executive within parliament, and institutional configurations at the centre of government. Third, I explore the way in which Poland’s accession to the European Union influenced democratic consolidation in Poland, and argue that Europe has had a fairly permanent, though restricted, impact on the development of institutions that engender democratic accountability. Finally, the chapter demonstrates how such institutional hurdles contributed to a major crisis of governance in 2003–2004. It argues that the crisis acted as a catalyst, mobilising domestic political forces to propose radical institutional reforms that may move Poland farther away from post-communism.


PARTY STRUCTURES

Internal party leadership

If governments are to be responsive to the interests of the democratic majorities, party leaders must have institutional levers to mobilise individual members and control their behaviour. The emergence of strong leadership within political parties is thus a prerequisite for democratic consolidation (Cox & McCubbins 1993). The Polish party organisations that emerged after 1989 provided their leaders with a relatively high degree of institutional control. Party leaders

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